By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.
State of New Jersey Kean University and Council of New Jersey State College Locals, AFT, AFL-CIO
In P.E.R.C. No. 2012-69, the Commission affirmed a decision of the Deputy Director of Unfair Practices who had refused to issue a complaint based on an unfair practice charge filed by the Council of New Jersey State College Locals, AFT, AFL-CIO against the State of New Jersey Kean University. The decision means that the AFT will not be able to try to prove its case in an unfair practice hearing. Among other things, the charge alleges retrograde negotiations – that the University put an offer on the table and when, after trying to negotiate changes, the AFT agreed to the University’s proposal, the University then made substantive changes to its proposal. All of the decisions cited by the Commission that found no bad faith negotiations were issued after the union had been given an opportunity to present its case at hearing. In this case, the Commission stated that it made its decision “[c]onsidering the totality of the circumstances” and that AFT’s assertions with regard to the University’s bad faith are “unsupported.” However, the Commission’s rules provide that a complaint will issue and a hearing will be conducted when the allegations, if true, may constitute unfair practices. The rules contemplate that it is at a hearing that a union will get to support its allegations.