Is a Collective Bargaining Agreement Invalid and Unenforceable If It Conflicts With a Statute ?

In Abel v. City of Pittsburgh, 890 A.2d 1 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005), a collective bargaining agreement required City employees to be laid off by job title and individual department in reverse order of seniority. By contrast, the Pittsburgh Civil Service Act required that furlough be determined strictly by years of service. After their furlough, several affected City employees appealed to the Pittsburgh Civil Service Commission, which denied their appeal. The trial court reversed, holding that because the operative collective bargaining agreement conflicted with the Pittsburgh Civil Service Act, the CBA was invalid and unenforceable under Section 703 of Act 195. This Court reversed the trial court, concluding that the trial court misapprehended the meaning of Section 703 of Act 195, which states: The parties to the collective bargaining process shall not effect or implement a provision in a collective bargaining agreement if the implementation of that provision would be in violation of, or inconsistent with, or in conflict with any statute or statutes enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the provisions of municipal home rule charters. 43 P.S. 1101.703. At first glance, Section 703 appears to support the broad conclusion that a statute will always trump a collective bargaining agreement. However, our Supreme Court has clarified that Section 703 does not trump collective bargaining on wages, hours and other essential terms of employment. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. State College Area School District, 461 Pa. 494, 337 A.2d 262 (1975).