Commission Rules That Employees May Not Sell Back Sick Days EachYear

Township of Little Falls and Teamsters Local 97

In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-42, citing N.J.S.A. 40A:9-10.4, the Commission held that employees hired May 21, 2010 or later cannot negotiate to sell back sick days each year.  The statute states that accumulated sick leave “shall be payable only at the time of retirement.”

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Filed under 2015

Court Restores the Status Quo Regarding Payment of Increments

Atlantic County and PBA Local 243 and FOP Lodge 34 and PBA Local 77

Bridgewater Township and PBA Local 174

The courts issued a stunning rebuke to the Public Employment Relations Commission for its reversal of over 30 years of labor relations policy in two decisions that had no longer required or even permitted employers to pay automatic increments after the expiration of a contract.  Appellate Division Decision.  In a decision involving Atlantic County, PERC disavowed what is called the “dynamic status quo” doctrine and ruled that the County’s decision not to pay salary/step increments was not an unfair practice.  P.E.R.C. No. 2014-40.  In a related decision involving Bridgewater Township, PERC ruled that payment of salary/step increments after contract expiration is no longer subject to negotiations and that an agreement to pay those increments is not enforceable in arbitration.  P.E.R.C. No. 2015-11. 
The appellate court reversed PERC on both counts.  The court ruled that PERC’s two decisions were outside it legislative mandate.  The court noted that the 2% tax levy cap and the 2% interest arbitration award cap did not extend to increments and that PERC did not have the authority to do what the Legislature chose not to do.  Finally, the court stated that PERC undermined the parties’ legitimate expectations based on their negotiations and their contracts.
Atlantic County, Bridgewater and PERC have filed petitions asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to review the cases.

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Filed under 2015

Commission Permits Arbitration Over Non-Renewal of Security Aide

Passaic Board of Education and Passaic Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-37, the Commission denied a request for a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance challenging the non-renewal of a security aide as violating a contractual just cause provision.  The Commission found that whether the Board agreed to provide contractual tenure/job security and whether, if so, it had just cause to dismiss are legally arbitrable issues.  The court decisions that the Board relied on held that parties had not contractually agreed to arbitrate non-renewals, but did not preclude the parties from agreeing to do so.

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Filed under 2016

Commission Finds that Borough Violated the Act by Disciplining Police Officer for Comments to Mayor at Public Meeting

Borough of Carteret and Police Benevolent Association Local 47

In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-28, the Commission found that the Borough violated the Act by disciplining a police officer after he made comments at a public meeting concerning union-related issues.  The Commission found that the comments were protected given the totality of the exchange, which concerned union-related issues discussed off-duty in a public meeting in the officer’s capacity as a union representative.  The Commission characterized two of the officer’s comments as inappropriate and disrespectful, but found that those comments were made as part of an overall heated exchange with the Mayor and could not be viewed in a vacuum.

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Filed under 2016

Commission Denies Request for Restraint of Arbitration Over Paraprofessional Increment Withholding

Edison Township Board of Education and Edison Township Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-33, the Commission denied a request for a restraint of binding arbitration over an increment withholding from a paraprofessional.  The alternate statutory review procedure for teaching staff member increment withholdings does not govern paraprofessionals.  See N.J.S.A 18A:29-14.

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Filed under 2016

Commission Restrains Arbitration Over Refusal to Fill Vacant Position With Senior Qualified Officer

Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and Police Benevolent Association, Local 177

In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-23, the Commission restrained arbitration over a grievance challenging the employer’s refusal to appoint a senior qualified correction officer to a vacant position.  The Union argued that the grievant and the officer selected had been splitting time in the position for over one year.  The decision states that the County argued that it had a managerial prerogative to select the most qualified officer and indicates that the County did not file a supporting certification.  In fact, the decision does not state that the County provided any facts to the Commission to show that the selected officer was more qualified than the senior officer.  The PBA has appealed.

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Filed under 2016

Commission Rules That Negotiations Over Health Benefits Cannot Begin Until Contract After Full Implementation of Chapter 78

Clementon Board of Education and Clementon Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-10, the Commission ruled that negotiations over health benefit contribution levels cannot begin until the successor contract negotiations that begin after completion of the four-year tiered implementation set by Chapter 78.  The Commission also ruled that a preexisting contract provision was preempted to the extent it set out 1.5% of base salary as the status quo for negotiations once employee contribution levels become negotiable.  The Association has appealed.

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Filed under 2016