By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.
County of Atlantic and PBA Local 243, FOP Lodge 34 and PBA Local 77
In P.E.R.C. No. 2014-40, the Commission reversed over 30 years of court-approved Commission precedent and eliminated an employer’s obligation to pay automatic salary increments after the expiration of a collective negotiations agreement. Citing a change in the labor relations climate, the Commission reversed the decision of the Hearing Examiner who had found that the County never claimed an inability to pay increments, and, in fact, had kept its budget growth under the 2% tax levy cap and had retroactively paid increments after the issuance of an interest arbitration award involving one of the unions, PBA Local 243. The Commission also reversed the Hearing Examiner’s conclusion that the parties had expressly agreed to continue the automatic payment of step increments notwithstanding the expiration of the contracts and that the County therefore repudiated the express terms of the agreements. The Commission vote was 3 to 1, with one public and one employee representative member of the Commission not present. The Unions have filed appealed.