Is the Public School Code a Violation of Section 701 of Act 195 ?
Is the Public School Code Which Gave School Boards the Duty to Set Teacher Salary a Violation of Section 701 of Act 195 Which Allows Public Employers to Negotiate on Wages Hours and Conditions of Employment ?
In Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. State College Area School District, 461 Pa. 494, 337 A.2d 262 (1975), the Supreme Court resolved the conflict between the Public School Code of 1949,which gave school boards the duty to set teacher salaries, and Section 701 of Act 195, which mandates public employers to negotiate "with respect to wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment." 43 P.S. 1101.701. the Supreme Court resolved the conflict in favor of Section 701 of Act 195 and held that school boards were required to negotiate wages.
Section 701 of Act 195 provides:
Collective bargaining is the performance of the mutual obligation of the public employer and the representative of the public employes to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment, or the negotiation of an agreement or any question arising thereunder and the execution of a written contract incorporating any agreement reached but such obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession. 43 P.S. 1101.701.
In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court explained why Section 703 did not compel another result.
It reasoned that the mere fact that a particular subject matter may be covered by legislation does not remove it from collective bargaining under section 701 if it bears on the question of wages, hours and conditions of employment.
The Court believed that section 703 only prevents the agreement to and implementation of any term which would be in violation of or inconsistent with any statutory directive.
State College, 461 Pa. at 508, 337 A.2d at 269.
It further explained that in determining whether there is a "violation of ... any statutory directive," courts must examine that "statutory directive" as follows:
Items bargainable under section 701 are only excluded under section 703 where other applicable statutory provisions explicitly and definitively prohibit the public employer from making an agreement as to that specific term or condition of employment. Id. at 510, 337 A.2d at 270.
Thus, State College teaches that Section 703 prohibits parties from collectively bargaining a term only where the other statute "explicitly and definitively prohibit[s] the public employer from making an agreement as to that specific term." Id.
In the absence of a direct prohibition, an issue must be negotiated under Section 701 if it impacts wages, hours and other terms or conditions of employment. Id.
To construe Section 703 otherwise would strip Act 195, which was enacted to authorize collective bargaining for public employees, of any meaning.