Appealed From No. 94-C-2429. Common Pleas Court of the County of Lehigh. Judge DIEFENDERFER, President Judge.
Before: Honorable Joseph T. Doyle, Judge, Honorable Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter, Judge, Honorable Jess S. Jiuliante, Senior Judge. Opinion BY Judge Doyle.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Doyle
The City of Allentown appeals an order of the Common Pleas Court of Lehigh County entering summary judgment against the City in favor of Appellees, a group of City police lieutenants and captains who filed a declaratory judgment action to obtain increased salary and other benefits under Section 1 of Act 204 of 1984, which provides in relevant part:
Ranking officers in a political subdivision of the Commonwealth who have been removed from bargaining units . . . by rulings of the shall receive no less than the same dollar increase including fringe benefits excluding overtime and festive holiday pay as received by the highest ranking police officer participating in the bargaining unit. (Emphasis added.)
Act of December 18, 1984, P.L. 1004, 43 P.S. § 218.
The facts are not in dispute and may be summarized as follows. Prior to 1990, the Queen City Lodge # 10 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) represented all City police officers and was, therefore, the sole bargaining representative of all City police officers, including the lieutenants and captains. *fn1 However, the City sought to have the lieutenants and captains removed from the bargaining unit and, toward that end, the City filed a Petition for Unit Clarification with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) seeking their removal from the unit. *fn2
The PLRB, however, never heard the City's Petition. Instead, in 1990, the parties negotiated a settlement agreement which provided that the City would rescind its residency requirement for all members of the police force, and the FOP agreed to exclude all lieutenants and captains from the bargaining unit. The recision of the residency requirement, of course, applied to all police officers in the bargaining unit including the lieutenants and captains. The lieutenants and captains, in addition, received a specific benefit, to wit: all lieutenants and captains were reclassified for wage purposes, resulting in an average increase in their base salary of approximately $8,000.00.
On December 20, 1990, the PLRB approved the settlement agreement and issued a "Proposed Order of Unit Clarification" which provided, in relevant part:
On February 5, 1990, the received a Petition for Unit Clarification filed by the [City] requesting that the Board hold a hearing on the question of whether certain police officers continue to share a community of interest with the other officers in the police bargaining unit. . . .
A hearing was necessary to settle the dispute. However, the parties requested a continuance of the hearing. On May 31, 1990 the notified the parties that the hearing was continued to July 19 and 20, 1990.
On July 18, 1990, the FOP and the City signed an agreement whereby the FOP agreed to allow all captains and lieutenants to be removed from the bargaining unit and the City agreed to allow all police officers to live wherever they wanted and to rescind the ...