Category Archives: 2014

Commission Limits Back Pay to Only Employees Who Accept Reinstatement

By Ira W. Mintz, Esq.

Monroe Township Bd. of Fire Commissioners and Monroe Township Professional Firefighters Association, International Association of Firefighters, Local 3170

The Commission found that the employer violated the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1 et seq., whcn it employed non-bargaining unit, per diem firefighters to perform firefighter duties historically performed by full-time bargaining unit firefighters represented by Local
3170 and terminated the paid firefighters in retaliation for filing an unfair practice charge challenging the transfer of unit work.  P.E.R.C. No. 2015-14.  However, rather than order the typical remedy of reinstatement with back pay, the Commission ordered that reinstatement be offered to the firefighters and that only firefighters who accepted offers of reinstatement would be entitled to back pay.  This limited remedy followed an August 2013 Commission decision that had modified a Hearing Examiner’s recommended remedy for back pay to impose a similar limitation.  See Passaic Cty. Superintendent of Elections and CWA Local 1032, P.E.R.C. No. 2014-1.

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Appellate Court Denies Commission’s Motion to Intervene

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.

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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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