Labor and Employment

Fraternal Order of Police • Collective Bargaining Agreements• Arbitration

Michael G. Lutz Lodge No. 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Philadelphia, PICS Case No. 13-3422 (Pa.Commonw. Jan. 2, 2014) Covey, J. (38 pages).

Appellant Michael G. Lutz Lodge No. 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) appealed from the trial court’s order denying its petition to vacate arbitration award. The trial court was affirmed.

The FOP and appellee City of Philadelphia are parties to collective bargaining agreements. However, they were unable to agree on terms and conditions of a July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014 collective bargaining agreement and convened an arbitration panel pursuant to the Policeman and Fireman Collective Bargaining Act. Of the issues presented, the arbitration panel was to decide on procedures required to notify officers for court appearance as the current system disrupted their personal lives. The arbitration panel issued an interest arbitration award requiring 48 hour notice of court appearances or said officer shall be paid a minimum of four hours of overtime at a rate of 2.5 times the officer’s regular rate.

The police department issued a memorandum memorializing the arbitration award but included additional terms. In response, the FOP requested an immediate hearing before the panel. Following an evidentiary hearing, the arbitration panel issued an award which included new terms regarding how notification can be achieved: telephone or email.

The FOP objected, arguing the terms re-drafted the collective bargaining agreement and petitioned the trial court to vacate the new award. The trial court denied the petition and the FOP appealed to this court.

The issues for review were: 1) whether the trial court erred by concluding the proceedings before the arbitration panel constituted interest arbitration hearings, as opposed to grievance arbitration hearings; 2) whether the trial court erred by improperly applying the narrow certiorari scope of review, and 3) whether the trial court erred by failing to vacate the portion of the arbitration awarded that changed the court notice distribution procedures for police officers.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court. The appellate court held the award was an interest arbitration award as the hearing was convened to determine the terms of the collective bargaining agreement which the parties disagreed on rather than interpretation of an existing collective bargaining agreement as in grievance arbitration. The appellate court further held the narrow certiorari scope of review was proper as the issues were limited to jurisdiction, regularity of proceedings, exceeding arbitrator’s powers, and deprivation of constitutional rights. Finally, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision not to vacate the prior arbitration award as the arbitration panel did not alter the collective bargaining agreement terms to include notice by either telephone or email.