Commission Permits Arbitration Contesting State’s Refusal to Pay Annual Step Increments After Contract Expiration

State of New Jersey and Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-35, the Commission denied the State’s request for a restraint of binding arbitration of grievances contesting the State’s refusal to pay annual step increments after contract expiration.  Applying the Supreme Court’s decision in In re County of Atlantic, 230 N.J. 237 (2017), the Commission found that step movement during the hiatus period between an expired contract and a successor contract is mandatorily negotiable.

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Filed under 2018

Commission Finds That the FLSA Does Not Preempt Arbitration Over Employer’s Decision That Employee is Overtime Ineligible

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and Union of Rutgers Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Local 1766, AFL-CIO

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-32, the Commission denied a request for a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance asserting that Rutgers violated University policy and applicable law, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, when it reclassified an employer from non-exempt to exempt under the FLSA.  The Commission found that the FLSA does not prohibit arbitral review of Rutgers’ classification decision and the payment of overtime if the classification decision is found to be erroneous under applicable FLSA law and regulations.

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Filed under 2018

Commission Rules That Statutes Do Not Require the Payment of State Employee Increments After Contract Expiration

William Toolen, et al. and State of New Jersey

State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, et al. and State of New Jersey

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-29, the Commission dismissed complaints filed by various majority representatives of State employees in the Superior Court and transferred to the Commission.  The Commission stated that the thrust of the lawsuits was that, separate and apart from any obligation to negotiate pursuant to the Employer-Employee Relations Act, the cited statutes in Titles 11A, 52 and 53, and related regulations, mandate the payment of increments after contract expiration.  The Commission stated that the Supreme Court’s decision in Atlantic County/Bridgewater, 230 N.J. 237 (2017), found the payment of increments to be mandatorily negotiable, and the Commission rejected the unions’  preemption argument.

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Filed under 2018

Commission Restrains Arbitration Over Challenge to Winter Storm Overtime Procedures

Secaucus Municipal Utilities Authority and Teamsters Local 11

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-24, the Commission restrained binding arbitration of a grievance contesting the procedures followed during a winter storm that resulted in two employees not being called in for overtime. The Commission found that the employer’s  decision not to call in additional employees on the two days in question was an exercise of its non-negotiable managerial prerogative to determine staffing requirements.  The Commission also restrained arbitration over the union’s claim that there was an impact on employee workload and safety.  Although the Commission’s jurisdiction in a scope of negotiations case does not extend to evaluating  the merits of a grievance, the Commission found that the Teamsters had not supported its argument with a certification from employees who were actually working on the dates in question and further found that the record did not reflect any safety concerns.

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Filed under 2017

Commission Restrains Arbitration Over Employer’s Failure to Immediately Reinstate Health Insurance For Employee Rehired Following Layoff

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and Health Professionals and Allied Employees AFT/AFL-CIO, Local 5094

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-23, the Commission restrained binding arbitration of a grievance contesting Rutgers’ failure to immediately reinstate an employee’s health insurance benefits when she was rehired following a layoff.  The Commission found that arbitration was preempted by the State Health Benefits Program Act and its implementing regulations which require two months of continuous full-time service in order to be eligible for coverage, and that the employee was ineligible for immediate coverage due to her break in service.

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Filed under 2017

Commission Finds That Civil Service Regulations Prohibit the Grant of Annual Sick Leave in Excess of an Employee’s Anticipated Continued Employment

Point Pleasant Beach Borough and PBA Local 106

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-20, the Commission restrained binding arbitration of a grievance contesting the prorating of an employee’s sick leave due to his impending retirement before the end of the calendar year.  The Commission found that a Civil Service regulation prohibited the granting of annual sick leave in excess of an employee’s anticipated continued employment.  The Commission relied on two Civil Service Commission cases applicable to State employees.  The Commission permitted arbitration over the union’s challenge to the proration of vacation leave finding that issue not preempted.  In addition, the Commission reiterated that an employer cannot, by passage of an ordinance pursuant to a general statute, preempt an otherwise mandatorily negotiable term and condition of employment.

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Filed under 2017

Commission Addresses Recall Rights of Laid-off Custodians

Trenton Board of Education and Trenton School Custodians Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-16, the Commission restrained arbitration over the Association’s claim that the Board had to maintain 81 permanent full-time custodians.  But the Commission declined to restrain binding arbitration over the claim that the Board violated the recall rights of laid off permanent full-time employees by hiring substitutes for their full-time positions.

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Filed under 2017