Commission Rules That Nurses’ Work Schedules Not Subject to Negotiations

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Health Professionals and Allied Employees, Local 5089

In P.E.R.C. No. 2015-17, the Commission restrained binding arbitration of a grievance challenging the elimination of 29 full-time positions as a “reorganization” instead of “layoff,” and the creation of .9 positions without negotiations.  UMDNJ argued that it had a managerial prerogative to use .9 positions to respond to a decline in patient census.  .9 employees are close to full-time but are eligible for only 1/2 of the uniform allowance and tuition reimbursement, and they accrue vacation, sick and float time at a reduced rate.  HPAE responded that a decline in patient census is an economic reason for creating .9 positions that should have followed the layoff provision of the contract with its additional bumping rights and the right to unemployment benefits for nurses who were separated from employment.  The Commission recognized that work schedules are, as a general rule, mandatorily negotiable, but then found that UMDNJ was responding to a decline in patient population and therefore had a managerial prerogative to reallocate its staff to meet patent needs.

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