By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.
Township of Bridgewater and PBA Local 174
In a stunning extension of its Atlantic County. decision, the Commission ruled that a union could not enforce an agreement with the employer to continue to advance employees on the salary guide after the parties’ contract had expired. P.E.R.C. No. 2015-11. In Atlantic County, 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 as part of the employer’s obligation to maintain the status quo. An appeal of the Commission’s decision in Atlantic County is pending. In Bridgewater, the Commission issued its decision after the union had prevailed in arbitration and after the arbitration award had been confirmed by the Superior Court. After noting that the issues of compensation and advancement on a salary guide are generally mandatorily negotiable and legally arbitrable issues, the Commission simply asserted that after a contract expires, advancement on salary guide is no longer a term and condition of employment and therefore not subject to binding arbitration.