PA Act 111 of 1968

(Police and Firefighter Collective Bargaining)


While the Board is explicitly authorized in both the Public Employe Relations Act and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act to administer relevant sections of each of these laws, Act 111 itself does not grant any such authority to the Board. Instead, the Board's police and firefighter jurisdiction stems from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision which held that although procedures for determining the appropriateness of collective bargaining units are not in Act 111, procedures established for this purpose under the PLRA should also be applied to police and firefighter cases, Philadelphia Fire Officers Association v. PLRB, 470 Pa. 550, 360 A.2d 259 (1977). Based on this finding, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania also has upheld the Board's exercise of jurisdiction over unfair practice charges involving police and firefighters, City of Coatesville, 77 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 265, 465 A.2d 1073 (1983).


Under Act 111 and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act, police officers and firefighters may organize in units represented by employe organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of bargaining collectively with their employers concerning wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. One of the Board's major functions is to determine the appropriateness of these collective bargaining units, based on guidelines established in each act and in relevant case law. The Board also determines whether employes in an appropriate collective bargaining unit desire to be represented by a specific labor organization. This is principally accomplished through the conduct of secret ballot elections which are held at the employes' work site or, in some instances, by canvassing eligible voters via mail ballot.
Since under the PLRA employers may recognize employe representatives without an election, the Board does not have to certify an employe organization before it may bargain. As a result, the Board only becomes involved in representation matters involving police officers and firefighters when questions are raised regarding the appropriateness of a unit or the representative status of an employe organization.
Representation cases are initiated most often by filing a petition which must be supported by a showing of interest by 30 percent of the employes in the proposed unit.
Before an election is held, the Board may schedule a hearing to investigate any issues which may exist concerning the petition. Frequently, if no major questions are raised concerning the propriety of the unit or other matters, the parties may eliminate the formal hearing by stipulating the time and place of the election, the eligibility list and various other matters.
When elections are held under Act 111 and the PLRA, certification of police and fire representatives requires a vote of 50 percent or more of the employes voting. If no choice receives 50 percent or a majority of the votes, a runoff election is held between the two choices that received the most votes.
Units may be certified without conducting elections if an employer does not question either the appropriateness of a unit or the majority status of a petitioning employe organization, and the employer joins with the employe organization to request that the Board certify the proposed unit.
Representatives may be decertified pursuant to the filing of a decertification petition which must also be supported by 30 percent of the employes in the unit or, in the case of an employer filed petition, by a substantiated good faith doubt of the majority status of the representative. The certified or recognized representative will lose its bargaining status if it does not receive 50 percent or more of the valid votes cast in a decertification election, or if it voluntarily decides to relinquish its representative status through the filing of a disclaimer of interest.
Parties may also petition the Board for clarification of whether certain positions should be properly included in a unit. This procedure is available to determine managerial or rank and file status under Act 111.
The Board may also amend a previously issued certification to reflect a change in the name or affiliation of an employe representative.


The PLRB enforces and protects the rights of employes to organize and to bargain collectively through investigation of charges of unfair practices and direction of remedies if such practices are found. Section 6 of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act outlines unfair practices prohibited for employers, employes or employe organizations. The unfair practice prohibitions in the PLRA are also applied to police and firefighters collective bargaining under Act 111.
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