Are Security and Maintenance Employees Considered ''Guards'' ?

In Erie County Area Vocational-Technical School v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 52 Pa. Commw. 388, 417 A.2d 796 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1980), this Court considered consolidated cross-appeals filed by the employer and the Board. The question in Erie County was whether the trial court erred in modifying the Board's order by excluding from a bargaining unit security/maintenance employees which it found were "guards" pursuant to Section 604(3) of Public Employe Relations Act (PERA). In the appeal, the Board argued that the employees were not guards under PERA, while the employer insisted that the trial court was correct in finding them to be "guards" under Section 604(3). This Court, in deciding the issue, noted pertinent factual findings by the Board that these employees: (1) were required to safeguard millions of dollars worth of equipment on the employer's premises; (2) were responsible for protecting equipment and the premises from unauthorized entrants by periodic inspection tours of the buildings during their work weekends and nights; (3) were instructed to call the police and protect the property in the event a trespasser was detected on the premises, as long as their lives were not endangered. 417 A.2d at 798. In ultimately affirming the Board and concluding that these employees were "guards" under PERA, this Court agreed with the employer and stated that the: Characterization of the employees as "guards" under Section 604(3) of PERA is not solely dependent on whether their main function is the enforcement of the employer's rules against other employees. The critical element of the "guard" function is that the employees are responsible for enforcing the employer's rules to protect the employer's property. During a strike or labor dispute this could mean possibly protecting the employer's property from striking employees; there the divided loyalty problems which necessitate the guards' exclusion from the bargaining unit could become apparent. Id. In concluding that the employees were guards based on the possibility that they would be called to protect the employer's property from striking employees, the Court essentially invoked an "employer-protection" analysis pursuant to Section 604(3) of PERA, at the request of the employer.