Union Misses Deadlines, Loses 4% Raise

In 2010, Local 776 of the Teamsters Union was elected to represent police officers working for the Borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, replacing the Gettysburg Police Officers Association. Local 776 began bargaining with the Borough, and proposed wage increases for 2011, 2012, and 2013. When no agreement was reached, an arbitrator awarded 4% wage increases for 2011 and 2012, and a 3.99% wage increase for 2013.

The Borough challenged the award for the 2011 wage increase, contending that Local 776 failed to comply with time limits set in Pennsylvania’s public safety collective bargaining law (known colloquially as Act 111). A state appeals court recently agreed with the Borough, and ordered the 2011 wage increase canceled.

The problem, the Court found, was that Local 776 missed several of the time limits required by Act 111. The Court observed: “In granting police officers and firefighters the right to collective bargaining and creating an arbitration panel to resolve issues in dispute, Act 111 establishes strict timetables and prerequisites for collective bargaining, for an arbitration request, and for a legislative action necessary to implement an arbitration award. Collective bargaining must begin at least six months before the start of the next fiscal year. If an impasse has been reached after negotiating for at least 30 days, either party may request the appointment of an arbitration panel after providing the other party written notice containing specifications of issues in dispute. A request for arbitration must be made at least 110 days before the next fiscal year. In addition, the police officers and firefighters must serve written notice of arbitration upon the head of the local governing body.

“Under Act 111, time is of the essence in collective bargaining. The time schedules in Act 111 are keyed to the public employer’s next fiscal year in order to provide the local governing body sufficient time to prepare an appropriate budget and to enact the necessary implementing legislation before the beginning of the new fiscal year. Compliance with the time requirements of Act 111, therefore, is mandatory.

“The undisputed evidence established that the Borough and the Union began collective bargaining on June 14, 2010, more than six months before the start of the fiscal year 2011. The Union, however, failed to comply with Act 111 by seeking a list of arbitrators on June 29, 2010 without bargaining with the Borough for at least 30 days, without declaring an impasse, and without listing any issues in dispute. In addition, the Union never served upon the Borough Council president written notice of arbitration containing specifications of issues in dispute, as required by Act 111. The Union did not properly demand an arbitration 110 days before the beginning of the fiscal year 2011, September 12, 2010, as required by Act 111.

“Because the Union failed to timely provide written notice of arbitration containing specifications of issues in dispute to the Borough and serve it upon the Borough Council president, the arbitration panel lacked jurisdiction to award the Borough police officers wage increases for the fiscal year 2011.”

Borough of Gettysburg v. Teamsters Local No. 776, 2014 WL 5462462 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014).