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Oakmont attorney named to state labor relations board

| Saturday, May 19, 2012, 4:48 p.m.
Bob Shoop Jr. of Oakmont, attorney and the borough's solicitor, has been nominated by Gov. Tom Corbett to serve on the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A Pittsburgh attorney who got to know Gov. Tom Corbett on a YMCA basketball court was nominated by the governor and has been confirmed by the state Senate to serve on the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

Robert H. Shoop Jr. of Oakmont is a partner at Thorp Reed & Armstrong. He served on Corbett's gubernatorial transition committee last year, where part of his duties were in the areas of labor and employment relations.

Confirmed by the Senate on April 30, his appointment to the three-member board runs through June 2, 2017.

"I mentioned to the governor that I would like to help in any way I could," Shoop said. "This vacancy came up. They called me and asked if I'd be interested in it and I said yes."

What the PLRB does

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board conducts hearings and issues rulings on unfair labor practice charges filed mainly by public sector employees, employee organizations or employers.

It also conducts union representation elections, appoints fact-finders and issues panels of arbitrators in certain public sector collective bargaining disputes.

The board's members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate to six-year terms. Staff in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh handles day-to-day activities; the board resolves appeals from staff decisions and establishes overall policy and operating guidelines.

Shoop replaces Anne Covey, a Bucks County lawyer, who was elected to become a Commonwealth Court judge.

The other board members are Chairman L. Dennis Martire and James M. Darby.

Martire, of McDonald, was first appointed to the board in 1983 and has chaired it since 1992. He was an officer with the Construction General Laborers Local 1058, retiring in 2005 as business manager after 44 years.

Darby, of Landisville, was joined the board in 2005. He is a full-time arbitrator and mediator and a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators.

Governor taps Shoop's expertise

Corbett spokesman Gary Miller said Corbett selected Shoop for his expertise in labor relations law, having more than 40 years of experience. "Throughout his career, he has distinguished himself by providing expert advice in employment litigation and labor agreements," Miller said.

Shoop and Corbett were law partners, but knew each other before then, Shoop said. Shoop said he hired Corbett at Thorp Reed when Corbett left the Attorney General's office. Before that, they would meet for noontime basketball at the YMCA.

"I'm an employment lawyer. I think I bring something to the position as far as my talents go," Shoop said. "I'm a big supporter of Tom Corbett's. I'm pleased to be able to support his administration as best I can in this position, and I look forward to it."

Shoop said he met with the board's Harrisburg staff, and told them he doesn't plan on "reinventing the wheel."

"I happen to believe we've got to make the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania more conducive to employers and government employers, also," he said. "We've got to even the playing field for the employers and the taxpayers."

Shoop said interesting issues he expects to come before the board include the state's casinos and cyber schools.

"There's some good things to decide and some big issues out there," he said, declining to comment further on matters that may come to the board.

Shoop has served as Oakmont's solicitor for more than 20 years. Unlike other solicitors, who often represent multiple municipalities or school districts, Shoop only serves one.

"It's more a community oriented thing for him, versus a business," said Councilman Tim Favo. "Obviously, he's an attorney, but it's not like he is a specialist in this area. He stepped forward years ago when there was a void."

Favo said Shoop carries a good reputation, and he's not surprised by his appointment to the board.

"Bob is quite an expert on labor relations," Favo said. "He's helped the borough a lot with that expertise over the years. He's very well thought of in the legal community. We're happy and pleased to have him as our solicitor.

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