Monthly Archives: July 2013

Commission Expands Definition of “Emergency” to Justify Denial of Overtime to Police Officers

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

Township of Howell and PBA Local 228

In P.E.R.C. No. 2013-68, the Commission restrained binding arbitration of a grievance challenging the Township’s decision to use special police officers rather than regular police officers on overtime during and after a snow event.  The Commission found that “[t]o require the Township to call in additional officers on overtime rather than respond to the emergency with SPOs it had available to supplement rather than supplant the normal staffing on the force, would substantially limit the Township’s power to respond to an emergency in the most expeditious and efficient manner.”  The Commission cites no facts to suggest that the Township could not have met its needs by bringing in regular police officers on overtime.  In the past, a desire to avoid overtime compensation was not a sufficient ground for an employer to obtain a restraint of binding arbitration.

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Commission Weakens Remedy for Unilateral Change in Terms and Condition of Employment

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

Kean University and Council of New Jersey State College Locals, AFT, AFL-CIO, Kean Federation of Teachers

In P.E.R.C. No. 2013-64, the Commission found that Kean University violated the Employer-Employee Relations Act by unilaterally increasing office hours for faculty and department chairs.  The Commission then deviated from prior case law by failing to restore the status quo pending negotiations over office hours and compensation and by ordering prospective negotiations only.  The Union had argued that the appropriate remedy after a finding that an employer failed to negotiate a mid-contract change in terms and conditions of employment is to restore the status quo pending the required negotiations.  The Commission explained its deviation from that remedy by citing to a case that simply explained that an employer need not exhaust Commission impasse procedures after compling with its obligation to negotiate before changing a non-contractual past practice during the life of a contract.  See UMDNJ, P.E.R.C. No. 2010-98, 36 NJPER 245 (¶90 2010).  The UMDNJ case did not order restoration of the status quo because the employer had a more than two decade history of setting supplemental salaries unilaterally.  UMDNJ had nothing to do with the appropriateness of a remedy restoring the status quo in a case like this after an employer illegally changes a term and condition of employment and the union promptly files an unfair practice charge.  In fact, even UMDNJ required negotiations over back pay upon demand.  To order prospective negotiations without the restoration of the status quo dramatically undermines a union’s bargaining position during those negotiations and eliminates any remedy for the employer’s past wrongdoing.

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Commission Reaffirms Right to Arbitrate Mid-Contract Terminations

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

Pleasantville Board of Education and Pleasantville Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2013-63, the Commission reaffirmed the right of a school secretary to challenge a mid-year termination through binding arbitration.

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