Limitation Period of Claims Against Unions for Breach of Fair Representation Duty

In James Casner, Mary Perkins, James Schopp, et al. v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, 658 A.2d 865 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995), correction officer employees had brought an action against their union in the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County. Employees sought monetary damages and equitable relief based on the assertion that the union breached its duty of fair representation as their collective bargaining agent. The union filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in response. Upon stipulation of the parties the case was transferred to this Court in our original jurisdiction. One of the issues in Casner involved which statute of limitations governed the employees' claims against their union for breach of the duty of fair representation. The union argued that the appropriate statute of limitations period was set forth in Section 1505 of PERA, 43 P.S. 1101.1505, because the claim was akin to an unfair labor practice claim. This Court disagreed and held that: Because the violation of the duty of fair representation is a civil claim that does not arise under PERA the statute of limitations period of that act does not apply....Petitioners' employees cause of action arises as a tort claim in equity against AFSCME (union) for the alleged failure to represent Petitioners employees....We conclude that the present controversy is not an action arising under PERA....Casner, 658 A.2d at 869-870.