Arbitration Award Can Be Appealed If It Infringes on the Common Pleas Court's Power to Hire and Fire Employees

In Lancaster County v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 761 A.2d 1250 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000), a panel of the court considered whether the county commissioners committed an unfair labor practice when they refused to submit to Act 195 interest arbitration the issues deemed by common pleas' President Judge to impermissibly interfere with the court's Section 1620 rights to hire, fire and direct personnel. The Judge objected to a very lengthy list of potential contract items, which included the standard work schedule, seniority based employee rights and the disputes subject to the grievance procedures. The court stated: the issue to be addressed is the proper procedure for a county or court to follow to raise the issue that proposed provisions of a collective bargaining agreement would impermissibly interfere with its authority. Is the proper procedure, as the County suggests, that once the Union makes a proposal, the President Judge determines which matters impermissibly infringe on the court's authority? or is it, as the Board and Union suggest, that only after interest arbitration has occurred can the County challenge the proposals in an appeal from the arbitration award and, until such time, cannot refuse to submit certain issues to arbitration? Id. at 1256. Our court ruled: Unless an action is filed challenging contract proposals as being illegal under Section 1620 or unconstitutional under the doctrine of separation of powers and an order entered finding that the proposed contract terms impermissibly infringe on the Common Pleas Court's ability to hire, fire and direct its employees, the County is required to proceed to interest arbitration. Once there is an award, if the County or the Common Pleas Court believes an arbitration panel's award impermissibly infringes on the Common Pleas Court's power to hire, fire and direct its employees, that award can then be appealed to determine whether it impermissibly impinges on the Common Pleas Court's authority. Id. at 1257.