Judicialization and judicial policy-making of public sector labor-management relations law under the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's public sector collective bargaining statutes

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration


David H. Rosenbloom


Administrative law, Pennsylvania, Labor management, Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board

Subject Categories

Public Administration


This dissertation primarily examines two interrelated activities. First, in the absence of legislative modification of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's public sector collective bargaining statues, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) and/or the state's appellate courts have since 1970 largely borne responsibility via incremental decisions for formulating the development of public sector labor relations policy in the state. Secondly, judicialization rather than having a neutral impact on labor-management relations, has resulted in an emphasis on strict adherence to overly complex procedural mechanisms over the timely resolution of labor-management disputes as intended by the framers of the Policemen and Firemen's Collective Bargaining Act (Act 1968-111) and the Public Employee Relations Act of 1970 (Act 1970-195).

The author begins be examining the continuing trend of administrative agencies to increasingly rely upon overproceduralization and excessive complexity in making routine decisions, including the expanded use of "trial-like" procedures in making these decisions. Attention is then focused on the Commonwealth's rich legacy of collective bargaining from colonial times to the present, examining the evolution of the treatment afforded to those seeking collective bargaining rights. Thereupon the author examines efforts during the 1960's to secure collective bargaining rights by public employees, including the compromises engineered to secure adoption of the state's public sector collective bargaining statutes.

Following adoption of Act 1970-195 responsibility for public sector labor relations policy largely shifted to the PLRB and to the appellate courts via judicial review of Board decisions. Here the author addresses the true impact of judicialization, namely overproceduralization and heavy reliance on "trial-like" procedures for seemingly routine decisions related to representation and unfair practice disputes. Further, judicial policy making is an incremental process at times resulting in upwards of ten years of litigation to completely resolve a labor relations policy question.

In the conclusion the author takes the position that continued judicialization and the near exclusive reliance on judicial policy making may result in effectively denying to public employees the rights Acts 1968-111 and 1970-195 were designed to guarantee. Finally, the author provides suggestions for responding to this unsettling trend.


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