Filing An Unfair Labor Practice Union Regarding the Assignment of Dispatching Work of Police Officers

In City of Clairton v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 107 Pa. Commw. 561, 528 A.2d 1048 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987), the mayor issued an emergency proclamation under which firemen assumed police officers' dispatching duties, thereby putting more officers on street duty. The union filed an unfair labor practice charge contending that the City refused to bargain with the union regarding the reassignment of dispatching work. The Board determined that although the reassignment of police officers to street patrol was a matter of inherent managerial prerogative, the unilateral decision to remove dispatching duties from the bargaining unit's work violated the City's obligation to collectively bargain. On appeal, the City argued that it could unilaterally assign the dispatching work to the firemen because the dispatcher position had not been included in the bargaining unit. In affirming the Board, the Court agreed with the Board's position that while the City could file a unit clarification request to bring the dispatcher role before the Board, it could not unilaterally redefine the bargaining unit by removing positions or functions, and such a proceeding, at a minimum, had to include the union which presently represented the employees performing the work if any resolution of the issues were to be made.