Lebanon County Detectives Association v. Lebanon County

A hearing examiner concluded that the county committed an unfair labor practice by unilaterally issuing a directive banning police detectives from smoking at their desks.  The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board affirmed the decision of the hearing examiner and rejected the three exceptions offered by the county.  The first contention, that the detectives are supervised by the district attorney who had previously adopted smoking policies that could not be in conflict with any policies adopted by the county.  After the district attorney’s policy was set, the county commissioners one year later adopted a more restrictive policy.   The court ruled that the county and, not effectively the district attorney, promulgated the policy that is in dispute in the case.  Secondly, the county argued that the union essentially waived its interest in the matter when it failed to demand collective bargaining after the county commissioners adopted the new policy.   The PLRB rejected that argument, ruling that it has consistently held that the employer “cannot rely on the union’s failure to request bargaining as a waiver of the right to bargain.”  In its third exception, the county argued that the new smoking policy “is essential to the basic mission of the County and therefore a protected managerial prerogative.”  The PLRB rejected that argument, relying on the precedents of Commonwealth v. PLRB (Venango County Board of Assistance) and Crawford County v. PLRB.