By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.
Bergen County PBA Local 134 and Bergen County Sheriff v. Kathleen Donovan, Bergen County Executive
In July 2011, a Commission designee denied the County of Bergen’s request for interim relief in an unfair practice case it filed against the PBA. The designee rejected the County’s argument that it was a joint employer with the Sheriff of the sheriff’s and corrections officers represented by the PBA and the designee denied the County’s request for an interim relief order stopping the PBA from negotiating the economic terms of a successor contract without the County Executive. The County moved for reconsideration before the full Commission. Fourteen months later, in P.E.R.C. No. 2013-8, the Commission granted reconsideration and vacated the decision of the Commission designee. In the meantime, the Sheriff and the PBA had reached a collective agreement which the County Executive refused to implement. The PBA went to court and notwithstanding what the Appellate Division later called “PERC’s belated decision on the reconsideration motion,” a trial court judge directed the County Executive to implement the contract. The County Executive then appealed the trial court’s decision. The Commission then took the unusual step of filing a motion to intervene in the appeal. The Appellate Division denied the Commission’s motion to intervene and affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that the Sheriff is the appropriate party to negotiate with Local 134. The County is seeking Supreme Court review.