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Neshannock Educational Support v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board

June 14, 2011

NESHANNOCK EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION, PSEA/NEA, PETITIONER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, : RESPONDENT :



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rochelle S. Friedman, Senior Judge

Argued: April 4, 2011

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge

OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE FRIEDMAN

The Neshannock Educational Support Professionals Association, PSEA/NEA (Association), petitions for review of the July 12, 2010, final order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) dismissing the Association's petition for unit clarification, which sought to add the Neshannock Township School District's (District) accounts payable clerk to the bargaining unit for non-professional employees. The PLRB concluded that the accounts payable clerk should be excluded because she is a "confidential employe" under section 301(13) of the Public Employe Relations Act (PERA).*fn1 We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

In 2007, the District negotiated a successor collective bargaining agreement with the exclusive representative of its professional employees. The superintendent, Dr. Mary Todora, the assistant superintendent, Dr. Kathleen Roppa, and the director of pupil services, Concetta Fiorante, were members of the District's bargaining team and sat at the bargaining table. In 2008, the District negotiated a successor collective bargaining agreement for its non-professional employees. Again, Dr. Todora, Dr. Roppa, and Fiorante were members of the District's bargaining team and sat at the bargaining table. Dr. Todora was the District's chief negotiator.

Gisela Arrow is the District's accounts payable clerk, who reports directly to the business manager, Melissa Morosky.*fn2 Arrow is responsible for all matters relating to accounts payable, including the payment of bills and reimbursement for Title I and Title II grants. During the District's 2008 negotiations, Arrow prepared for Dr. Todora a cost analysis of an insurance proposal, which Dr. Todora presented at the bargaining table. During the 2007 negotiations, Arrow provided Dr. Roppa with information regarding Title I and Title II grants that were available to offset employee salaries.

On April 13, 2009, the Association filed the instant petition. After an evidentiary hearing, the PLRB concluded that the accounts payable clerk is a "confidential employe" under section 301(13) of PERA and issued a proposed order of dismissal on February 12, 2010. The Association filed exceptions to the proposed order, which were dismissed. The PLRB entered a final order on July 12, 2010, wherein it concluded:

[I]n two recent contract negotiations, the Accounts Payable Clerk provided District bargaining team members (the

Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent) with information that they utilized to analyze bargaining proposals. The

Accounts Payable Clerk's performance of such duties demonstrates that she has a close continuing relationship with District representatives associated with collective bargaining. Therefore, she is confidential under the second prong of Section 301(13).

(Final Order at 5.) The Association now petitions for review of that decision.*fn3

In its petition, the Association asserts that: (1) the PLRB erred in concluding that the accounts payable clerk worked in a close continuing relationship with the superintendent and the assistant superintendent under section 301(13)(ii) of PERA; (2) the PLRB erred in failing to analyze the accounts payable position under section 301(13)(i) of PERA; and (3) the PLRB's finding that the District did not attempt to scatter confidential duties among its employees was unsupported by substantial evidence. Because we conclude that the Association's first claim has merit, we reverse and remand.

(1) Section 301(13)(ii) of PERA

The Association argues that the PLRB erred in concluding that the accounts payable clerk is a confidential employee under section 301(13)(ii) of PERA because (1) Arrow worked directly for the business manager, who had no role in collective bargaining, and (2) Arrow's providing Dr. Todora and Dr. Roppa with financial information on two ...


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