City Refused to Arbitrate Employee Discharge Claiming That the Matter Belonged Before the Civil Service Commission

In City of Pittsburgh v. Pittsburgh Joint Collective Bargaining Comm., 852 A.2d 452 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004), the City of Pittsburgh entered into a collective bargaining agreements (CBA) agreeing to arbitrate grievances arising under the CBA. The City subsequently discharged an employee and then refused to arbitrate the matter on the grounds that the discharge was not an arbitrable issue since it belonged before the Civil Service Commission. In concluding that the chancellor had erred in deciding that the matter was not arbitrable, our Supreme Court examined the strong policies favoring arbitration. The court opined in relevant part: In the instant case the challenge is directed to the capacity of the employer to submit this particular subject to arbitration. . . . the relationship between the public employer and the designated bargaining unit is one which must be sustained for years, during which a number of contract negotiations will occur. To sustain a harmonious relationship it is necessary for each of the parties to be pliable and willing to recognize the other's position. Nothing could be more disruptive to such a relationship than a demonstration of bad faith bargaining on the part of one of the parties. We have already stressed the importance of grievance arbitration in facilitating the development and maintenance of harmonious relationships between the public employer and employee. It is even more supportive of a favorable employment climate where this dispute resolution mechanism arises from the good faith bargaining of the parties rather than being required by statute. To permit an employer to enter into agreements and include terms such as grievance arbitration which raise the expectations of those concerned, and then to subsequently refuse to abide by those provisions on the basis of its lack of capacity would invite discord and distrust and create an atmosphere wherein a harmonious relationship would virtually be impossible to maintain. Good faith bargaining would require that questions as to the legality of the proposed terms of a [CBA] should be resolved by the parties to the agreement at the bargaining stage. 481 Pa. at 74-75, 391 A.2d at 1322-23.