Does the Plrb Have Exclusive Jurisdiction Over Unfair Labor Practice Charges ?

In Barron v. City of Philadelphia, 85 Pa. Commw. 182, 481 A.2d 379 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1984), an interest arbitration award was rendered on June 29, 1982 which resulted in a collective bargaining agreement between the City of Philadelphia and a union representing the City's firefighters. The agreement required, inter alia, that all uniformed members of the City's fire department who did not join the union to pay a service fee to the union to defray their share of the costs to administer the agreement with the City. In April of 1983, a fire battalion chief filed a complaint in equity in the court of common pleas to enjoin the implementation of this "agency shop clause" because it constituted an unfair labor practice under Section 6 of the PLRA, and because the clause violated the relevant provisions of Act 111, the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, the Philadelphia Code, the Judicial Code, and the Wage Payment and Collection Law. Both the City and the union, as an intervening defendant, filed preliminary objections to the complaint. On June 8, 1983, the trial court issued an order sustaining the preliminary objections and dismissing the complaint, on the basis that it did not possess jurisdiction because the unfair labor practice charge was a matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the PLRB. The fire battalion chief appealed the trial court's order to this Court. In disposing of the appeal, this Court stated the following, in pertinent part: In his appeal, Appellant argues that the allegations contained in the complaint regarding the manner in which the agency shop clause in the collective bargaining agreement violates both Commonwealth and City law are such that there is subject matter jurisdiction in the court of common pleas. With respect to the unfair labor practice charge, we disagree. It is well settled that the PLRB has exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate unfair labor practice charges arising under the PLRA pursuant to Section 8 of the PLRA. And, whereas the unfair labor practice charge in the instant matter does not emanate from a bargaining impasse which would be subject to the arbitration provisions of Act 111, we read Act 111 to be in pari materia with the PLRA. Accordingly, the determination that the PLRB possessed exclusive original jurisdiction over the unfair labor practice charge in the case at bar was correct. This conclusion does not, however, terminate this matter. Appellant has raised a number of other statutes and ordinances separate and apart from the PLRA as being in conflict with the agency shop clause herein. The court of common pleas does have jurisdiction to resolve disputes between the parties arising under an existing collective bargaining agreement under Act 111 absent an arbitration clause for such in the agreement or a mutual revocation of such a clause. It also possesses jurisdiction to ascertain whether a provision of a collective bargaining agreement resulting from interest arbitration under Act 111, such as that herein, is in conflict with controlling law and hence, invalid. The Court, therefore, are constrained to hold that dismissal of Appellant's complaint was premature at this time and we remand this matter to the court of common pleas so that it may address the outstanding preliminary objections of the defendants as they pertain to the remaining charges of Appellant's complaint. Barron, 481 A.2d at 381.