Monthly Archives: April 2014

Commission Reaffirms Negotiability of School District Dress Code

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

Somerset Hills Board of Education and Somerset Hills Education Asssociation

In P.E.R.C. No. 2014-55, the Commission found that the school board violated its negotiations obligation by unilaterally modifying its dress code policies, including the implementation of a schedule of discipline for dress code violations.  The Commission also found that other aspects of the policies may be mandatorily negotiable or give rise to severable and negotiable consequences on negotiable terms and conditions of employment.  The case had been consolidated with an appeal to the Commissioner of Education and the Commission remanded the case to an Administrative Law Judge for further proceedings.

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Commission Reaffirms Its Reversal of Long-Standing Precedent and Finds Layoffs By Seniority Non-Negotiable

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

State of New Jersey  and New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Non-Commissioned Officers Association and New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Superior Officers Association and Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 91

In P.E.R.C. No. 2014-50, the Commission reaffirmed its 2011 reversal of long-standing precedent and held that a proposal that employees be laid off in reverse order of seniority is not mandatorily negotiable.  See April 2011 Blog Post on Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

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Commission Extends Its Ruling That Salary Increments, Longevity Increases, and Educational Payments Need Not Be Paid After Contract Expiration

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

Paterson State Operated School District and Paterson Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2014-46, the Commission extended the holding of its recent decision in Atlantic Cty., P.E.R.C. No. 2014-40, to dismiss an unfair practice charge filed after the school district refused to pay automatic salary increments, longevity increases and educational payment for acquisition of an advanced degree in accordance with a schedule in the parties’ expired contract.  Abandoning decades of precedent, the Commission stated that requiring the payment of increments serves as a disincentive to the prompt settlement of labor disputes.  However, the Commission did not provide the basis for its conclusion that settlements have been longer or harder to achieve.

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Commission Ignores Its Own Precedent And Restrains Arbitration Over Overtime Allocation

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

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. 2014-41, the Commission restrained binding arbitration over the assignment of non-unit members to perform boiler checks in Rutgers’s heating and cooling plants when negotiations unit members are on vacation.  Ignoring precedent cited to it by the Union, including a 1980 Appellate Division decision that also involved Rutgers, the Commission found that this case primarily involves the non-arbitrable issue of staffing levels rather than the arbitrable issue of which Rutgers employees will perform boiler checks when unit employees are out.  The Union has filed an appeal.

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Commission Finds That Employer Violated Employer-Employee Relations Act By Unilaterally Changing Health Coverage

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

Lakeland Regional Board of Education and Lakeland Educational Secretaries’ Association and Lakeland Regional High School Teachers’ Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2014-38, the Commission found that the school board violated its negotiations obligation and repudiated the parties’ contracts when it changed health care coverage and did not meet its contractual obligation to maintain health care benefits at a level that was “equal to or better than” the benefits employees had prior to the change in carriers.  The Commission will often defer health care benefit disputes to binding arbitration, but in this case the parties’ grievance procedure ended in advisory arbitration.

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Commission Permits Arbitration Over Compensation For Advanced Degree

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

Kingwood Township Board of Education and Kingwood Township Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2014-34, the Commission denied the employer’s request for a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance challenging the denial of a teacher’s request to move up on the salary guide after obtaining a masters degree.  The Commission rejected the school board’s argument that its action, which was authorized by an education statute, was reviewable only by the Commissioner of Education, not an arbitrator.  The Commission reiterated that the New Jersey Supreme Court has held that disputes over terms and conditions of employment that are regulated by statute can be resolved through binding arbitration provided the arbitrator’s determination is consistent with the terms of the statute and court decisions construing it.

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