Interest Arbitration under Policeman and Fireman Collective Bargaining Act
“Policemen or firemen employed by a political subdivision of the Commonwealth or by the Commonwealth, through labor organizations or other representatives designated by fifty percent or more of such policemen or firemen, have the right to bargain collectively with their public employers concerning the terms and conditions of their employment, including compensation, hours, working conditions, retirement, pensions and other benefits, and have the right to an adjustment or settlement of their grievances or disputes in accordance to this Act.” 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 217.1 (West).
Collective bargaining may only begin at least six months before the start of the fiscal year of the political subdivision or of the Commonwealth, and any request for arbitration may only be made at least one hundred ten days before the start of said fiscal year. § 217.3. In public sector labor law, there are primarily two types of alternative dispute resolution processes: 1) interest arbitration and 2) grievance arbitration. Interest arbitration is the process by which the parties, through a neutral arbitrator or panel, create a collective bargaining agreement after the parties fail to reach an agreement. Contrarily, grievance arbitration occurs when the parties dispute the proper interpretation or application of provisions contained in an existing collective bargaining agreement. Id.
An interest arbitration award under the Policemen and Firemen Collective Bargaining Act may embrace only those issues which the submitting party has specifically raised in the notice of arbitration, or which are reasonably considered as included within those issues and not serve as a means to reopen the underlying agreement. Id. (citing 43 P.S. § 217.4) (emphasis added).
Invocation of the interest arbitration process under the Policemen and Firemen Collective Bargaining Act requires an impasse. The issues must be submitted to interest arbitration for contract formulation by the interest arbitration panel and the issues not so preserved, unless reasonably included within properly preserved issues, are beyond the scope of the interest arbitration process and will not be enforceable. Michael G. Lutz Lodge No. 5, of Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Philadelphia, No. 42 EAP 2014, 2015 WL 9284242 (Pa. Dec. 21, 2015) (citing 43 P.S. § 217.4).