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DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY v. FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE

March 14, 2001

DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY, ET. AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs are the Delaware River Port Authority and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Port Authority Transit Corporation (collectively, the "DRPA"). Defendants are the Fraternal Order of Police, Penn-Jersey Lodge #30, and the Policemen's Benevolent Association Intercounties Local #30 (collectively, "the Unions"). The DRPA is a creature of a compact (the "Compact") entered into by the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and approved by Congress, pursuant to the Compact Clause of the Constitution. The purpose of the Compact is to create a single agency to develop the ports of Philadelphia and Camden and to operate bridges and provide mass transportation between New Jersey and Pennsylvania across the Delaware River. The issue in this case is whether the DRPA is under a legal duty to recognize and bargain collectively with the Unions as bargaining agents for certain police officer supervisors employed by the DRPA.

The parties agree that, under the Compact as enacted, the DRPA has no duty to recognize and bargain collectively with the Unions. The parties further recognize that New Jersey and Pennsylvania may agree to impose additional duties upon the DRPA, not assigned to the DRPA in the Compact when enacted, including the duty to recognize and bargain collectively with the exclusive bargaining agent of its police officers. Under the Compact, such additional duties may be imposed upon the DRPA by one state enacting legislation which is concurred in by the other state.

The Unions assert that since the Compact went into effect, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have enacted parallel and complementary labor relations statutes requiring public employers within their respective jurisdictions to recognize and bargain collectively with police officers. Although the Unions recognize that these public employees labor statutes do not expressly apply to the DRPA, they argue that their enactment evinces an intent on the part of both New Jersey and Pennsylvania to require the DRPA, like other public employers in the two states, to recognize and bargain collectively with the exclusive bargaining agent(s) chosen by their employees. Therefore, the Unions argue that the enactment of these public employees labor statutes satisfy the requirement under the Compact that additional duties can be imposed on the DRPA by the enactment of legislation by one state which is concurred in by the other state.

The DRPA, on the other hand, argues that additional duties may only be imposed upon the DRPA by action of the legislatures of both New Jersey and Pennsylvania making the legislation expressly applicable to the DRPA. Since it is admitted that both legislatures have not so spoken, the DRPA argues, it has no duty under the Compact as enacted to recognize and bargain collectively with the Unions.

In this action, the DRPA seeks a declaratory judgment as to whether it is required to recognize and bargain collectively with the Unions. Before the court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. The court finds that because the legislatures of the two states which created the DRPA, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have not enacted legislation that expressly imposes upon the DRPA the duty to recognize and bargain collectively with the exclusive bargaining agent of its police officers, the DRPA is not obligated to bargain with the Unions in this case. Therefore, the DRPA's motion for summary judgment will be granted, and the Unions' motion for summary judgment will be denied.

II. BACKGROUND

Under the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution, see U.S. Const. art. I, § 10, cl. 3,*fn1 states may enter into bilateral agreements in matters of common concern provided that they obtain the consent of Congress. The DRPA was created in 1931 by a compact between the State of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ("the Compact"). The following year, Congress gave its consent to the Compact.

The DRPA's governing scheme is carefully constructed to ensure that neither state can impose its will in DPRA affairs against the other state's wishes. The Compact provides for a Board of Commissioners ("the Board") to manage the DRPA's affairs. The Board consists of eight (8) commissioners from each state for a total of sixteen (16) Commissioners. See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:2-3; 36 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3503 (art. II).*fn2 The authority of the Board to manage the affairs of the DRPA is limited in three ways. First, a majority of each state's delegation must approve the Board's action. See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:3-4; 36 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3503 (art. III). Second, the Compact gives each state the right to enact legislation that grants its governor veto power over any DRPA action. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:3-4.2; 36 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3503 (art. III).*fn3 Third, and most importantly for the purposes of this case, each state's legislature may grant the Board additional powers or impose additional duties by passing legislation that is "concurred in by legislation of the other." N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:3-5; 36 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3503 (art. IV).

Article IV(e) of the Compact grants the commissioners the exclusive right to "appoint, hire or employ . . . agents and employes [sic], as it may require for the performance of its duties, by contract or otherwise, and fix and determine their qualifications, duties and compensation." N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:3-5; 36 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3503 (art. IV(e)). Nevertheless, the Unions contend that the DRPA is required to recognize and bargain collectively with certain of its superior police officers ("superior officers")*fn4 in an appropriate bargaining unit.*fn5 By letters to the DRPA dated August 22, 1999 and September 14, 1999, see Pls.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 2-3, the Unions sought recognition from the DRPA, on the basis that a majority of superior officers employed by the DRPA had signed authorizations cards designating the respective Unions as their exclusive bargaining agents.*fn6

It is not disputed that the Compact as enacted did not grant any DRPA employees collective bargaining rights, nor did it impose any duty on the part of the DRPA to bargain collectively with the Unions as exclusive bargaining agents. The Unions contend, however, that, as a result of post-Compact enactments by both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislatures of statutes which provide collective bargaining right to police officers, the Compact should be deemed to have been amended to impose upon the DRPA the duty to recognize and bargain collectively with its police officers.

The Unions point to New Jersey's Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J. Stat. Ann. 34:13A-1 et seq., and Act 111, Pa. Stat. Ann. tit. 43, § 217.1 et seq., and argue that because, since the enactment of the Compact, both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislatures have granted police officers the right to bargain collectively, each state legislature has "concurred in" the legislation of the other within the meaning of Article IV of the compact. Although neither statute expressly states that it applies to the DRPA, the Unions contend that a statement of "express intent" is not required under Article IV. Instead, the Unions read Article IV merely to require that the states adopt legislation that evidences substantially similar public policies, or, in the alternative, legislation that is complementary or parallel such that it can be considered substantially similar. The Unions argue that the New Jersey and Pennsylvania public employee labor statutes providing for collective bargaining rights for police officers not only evince substantially similar policies but are in fact substantially similar.

The DRPA disagrees, maintaining that Article IV is only satisfied, and the Compact thus amended, when each state enacts legislation that expressly applies to the DRPA. In the alternative, it contends that the statutes cited by the Unions are not complementary or parallel. The DRPA essentially concedes, however, that the respective statutes do express substantially similar public policies.

This case thus presents the question of whether a state "concurs in" the legislation of the other state within the meaning of Article IV of the Compact when both states adopt legislation that (1) expressly applies to the DRPA (the "express intent standard"); or (2) evinces the adoption of substantially similar public policies; and/or (3) is parallel or complementary, meaning that the statutes are substantially similar on their face (the "complementary or parallel standard").

III. DISCUSSION

A. Federal Law Is Controlling.

The consent of Congress to a compact between the states transforms the agreement into federal law. See Cuyler v. Adams, 449 U.S. 433, 440 (1981) ("Because congressional consent transforms an interstate compact within [the Compact Clause] into a law of the United States, . . . the construction of an interstate agreement sanctioned by Congress under the Compact Clause ...


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