Category Archives: 2016

Commission Affirms Decision to Certify Charter School Representative by Card Check

International Academy of Trenton Charter School and International Academy of Trenton Charter School Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-24, the Commission denied the request of the employer charter school for review of the Director of Representation’s certification by card check of the Association.  The Commission agreed with the Director’s determination, noting that a majority of eligible petitioned-for employees had signed authorization cards designating the Association as the majority representative and that “laboratory conditions” were compromised and employee rights to freely choose their representative were chilled by the Academy’s communications.  The employer had appealed.

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Commission Finds That Police Sergeant’s Email Was Not Protected Activity

Township of Morris and Morris Township Superior Officers Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-21, the Commission found that a police sergeant’s personal email for which he was disciplined was not protected by the Act because it was extreme and crude, demonstrated unprofessional and disrespectful behavior, undermined authority, and showed contempt for the administration and township manager.

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Commission Restrains Arbitration Over Carrier Change That Increased Employee Contributions

Readington Township Board of Education and Readington Township Administrators’ Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-18, the Commission restrained arbitration of a grievance claiming that the Board breached the parties’ contract by unilaterally changing insurance carriers necessitating employee contributions toward dental insurance premiums.  The Board had participated in the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) under which dental premiums are not part of the Chapter 78 contributions.  The Board changed to a private plan and under Chapter 78, dental premiums are subject to Chapter 78 contributions.  The Commission cited cases holding changes in carriers that change terms and conditions of employment are negotiable, but nevertheless held that the Board had a managerial prerogative to leave the SHBP and restrained arbitration.

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Commission Rules That Union is Not Entitled to List of Teachers Who Received “Ineffective” Performance Evaluations

State Operated School District City of Newark and Newark Teacher’s Union Local 481, AFT, AFL-CIO

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-14, the Commission ruled that the District violated the Employer-Employee Relations Act when it unilaterally imposed restrictions on attendance at the NJEA annual convention and when it blocked a Union representative’s email access to unit employees.  The Commission also ruled that the District did not have to provide a list of unit members who received “ineffective” performance evaluation ratings.  The Commission ruled that the ratings were confidential under the New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act.

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Commission Restrains Arbitration Over Termination of Maintenance Plumber

Camden County College and Camden County College Support Staff Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-7, the Commission restrained arbitration of a grievance challenging the termination of a maintenance plumber who allegedly no longer met the required job qualification of maintaining a valid New Jersey driver’s license.  The Commission found that the employer had a managerial prerogative to determine job qualifications and the union could not pursue its claim that the termination was unjust.  In 1968, the Legislature amended the Employer-Employee Relations Act to permit binding arbitration of disputes involving the major discipline of most public employees.  N.J.S.A. 34:13A-5.3.  The Commission did not address the 1968 discipline amendment.

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Commission Finds That Employer Had to Negotiate Before Reducing Secretary’s Work Year

Hackettstown Board of Education and Hackettstown Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-9, the Commission found that the Board violated the Act when it unilaterally reduced a secretary’s work year from 12 to 10.5 months for reasons of economy.  Balancing the parties’ interests, the Commission found that the employee interests in negotiating over the length of the work year and corresponding pay outweighed the Board’s interest in unilaterally reducing the work year and pay.  The Commission distinguished the Supreme Court’s decision in Borough of Keport v. Int’l Union of Operating Engineers, Local 68, 222 N.J. 314 (2015), and its decision in Robbinsville Tp. Bd. of Ed. and Washington Tp. Ed. Ass’n, P.E.R.C. No. 2014-30, 40 NJPER 253 (96 2013), aff’d 42 NJPER 69 (17 App. Div. 2015), which was subsequently reversed by the Supreme Court at 227 N.J. 192 (2016).  The Commission found that the Board did not show that it faced serious and pressing economic considerations or that it reduced the work year of the secretary to ensure the fiscal stability of the school district.

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Commission Reaffirms Union’s Right to Arbitrate On Behalf of Retirees

West Orange Board of Education and West Orange Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-87, the Commission denied the request of the Board for a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance contesting the unilateral termination of retiree-paid health insurance benefits for current retirees.  The Commission rejected the Board’s arguments that education statutes prohibited the continued benefits.

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