Suit to Compel to Submit to Binding Arbitration In a Collective Bargaining Agreement

In Pittsburgh Joint Collective Bargaining Committee v. City of Pittsburgh, 481 Pa. 66, 391 A.2d 1318 (1978), an employee filed a grievance with the City after his discharge. After exhausting all steps in the contractual grievance procedure, the employee then requested that the City submit the dispute to binding arbitration, as provided in the collective bargaining agreement. The City refused, and the Union responded with a suit in equity to compel the City to submit to arbitration. the City filed preliminary objections, asserting that the discharge was not an arbitrable issue because the discharge was governed exclusively by the Civil Service Act. The preliminary objections were sustained. Our Supreme Court reversed. It held that the City could not challenge the grievance arbitration provisions in the collective bargaining agreement, to which it had agreed, by asserting after-the-fact that the contract violated the Civil Service Act and Section 703 of Act 195. The Court emphasized the importance of grievance arbitration in the relationship between the public employer and employee. It explained as follows: The relationship between the public employer and the designated bargaining unit is one which must be sustained for years, during which a number of contract negotiations will occur. To sustain a harmonious relationship it is necessary for each of the parties to be pliable and willing to recognize the other's position. Nothing could be more disruptive to such a relationship than a demonstration of bad faith bargaining on the part of one of the parties.... To permit an employer to enter into agreements and include terms such as grievance arbitration which raise the expectations of those concerned, and then to subsequently refuse to abide by those provisions on the basis of its lack of capacity would invite discord and distrust and create an atmosphere wherein a harmonious relationship would virtually be impossible to maintain. Id. at 74, 391 A.2d at 1322.