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American Federation of State v. County of Lackawanna

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

October 24, 2014

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, District Council 87, Appellant
v.
County of Lackawanna

Argued, September 8, 2014

Appealed from No. 13 CIV 2677. Common Pleas Court of the County of Lackawanna. Braxton, Senior Judge.

John R. Bielski, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Lars H. Anderson, Kingston, for appellee.

BEFORE: HONORABLE BERNARD L. McGINLEY, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 1286

LEAVITT, JUDGE

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 87 (Union) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County (trial court) denying Union's motion to vacate an arbitration award. The arbitrator held that the County of Lackawanna (County) did not violate the anti-discretion or seniority clauses in the collective bargaining agreement by hiring a female detention officer to deal with female juvenile offenders, as it had been ordered to do by the trial court. Union argues that the trial court erred because the arbitrator's award did not draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. Concluding that the trial court did not err, we affirm.

On June 17, 2010, the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, by the Honorable Trish Corbett, entered an order, later memorialized in writing on September 15, 2011, directing the County to hire a female detention officer to work the day shift from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the County's juvenile detention facility (Juvenile Facility). The County did so, and Union responded with two grievances. The matter went before an arbitrator in accordance with the Public Employe Relations Act, Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, as amended, 43 P.S. § § 1101.101 - 1101.2301 (PERA).[1] At the grievance hearing, Union presented the testimony of Frank Galli, steward of the Juvenile Facility. The County presented the testimony of Clifford Hoffman, the director of the Juvenile Facility, and Nancy Pearson, the deputy director of human resources for the County.

The Juvenile Facility is an all-male juvenile detention center and is the only juvenile detention center in Lackawanna County. The Juvenile Facility may not house female offenders, who must be transferred to a female juvenile detention facility. The nearest female juvenile detention facilities

Page 1287

are in Tioga and Lancaster counties. The Juvenile Facility is responsible for transporting female juvenile offenders to one of these neighboring detention facilities.

Because the Juvenile Facility may not place female offenders in its cells, these offenders must wait in the Juvenile Facility's office until transportation can be arranged. Due to flight concerns, an officer must sit with female offenders while they wait for transportation. The Juvenile Facility's policy requires the presence of a female officer when female offenders are transported to neighboring juvenile detention facilities. According to Hoffman,

it's better to have a female. There's times we've actually had to pull over a car and restrain a female because she would get out of hand in the back of our vehicle. And like I said, it's a liability to let a female go into a bathroom by herself. You don't know if she's actually smuggled anything with her. So, it's definitely a plus and it also saves liability towards the county if two males are in the car driving a female down. The female could accuse the two males of anything she pretty much wants. A female with us lends more credibility to nothing has happened.

Reproduced Record at 77a (R.R. ). Because the Juvenile Facility has only male employees, female offenders cannot be transferred until the County can arrange to have female employees from other departments supervise the transfer.

Frequently, it takes an entire shift to find a female employee, usually a female probation officer, who is available for the transfer. Hoffman explained the complications that arise from this situation:

[W]e took volunteers from the juvenile and adult probation departments, they're all females. They're actually working for me at that time, they're not on their traditional work hours. I can't interfere with the traditional work hours of any of the probation officers. They're doing it, actually, on their own. And they're on a paid on call status.

R.R. 74a. Hoffman explained that when a female probation officer is not available, the " female [offender] would have to sit until 4:00 pm.... So that means that somebody could be locked up at 10:00 a.m. and have to sit until 4:00 before they even get on the road." R.R. 78a. Additionally, according to Hoffman, the " average round trip is six hours." R.R. 71a. Hoffman also testified that between 50 and 80 percent of all female juvenile offender transfers occur during the day shift.

Hoffman testified about problems that developed with the Juvenile Facility's transfer system in 2010:

Our number of transports really increased in 2010. In the past, like I said, we've done 10 females, 18 females in one year and our population shot up to 53 in 2010. And then plus that, with the layoffs and everything within the county, other departments were also shorthanded and couldn't loan us anybody to do those transports anymore.

R.R. 82a. These problems came to the attention of the trial court, specifically, the Honorable Trish Corbett, who had presided over " several cases" where " females [were] getting locked up at 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning and [had] to wait until 4 o'clock in the afternoon to be transported." R.R. 86a. On June 17, 2010, Judge Corbett, apparently sua sponte, ordered the Juvenile Facility to hire a female detention officer for the day shift. Accordingly, on August 6, 2010, the ...


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