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.
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.
Clifton Board of Education and Clifton Custodial Association
In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-82, the Commission denied the employer’s request for a restraint of binding arbitration after applying the evaluation/discipline test developed to determine whether a teaching staff member’s increment withholding could go to arbitration or had to be reviewed by the Commissioner of Education. That test does not apply to increment withholdings of non-teaching staff members because the parties could have lawfully agreed to arbitrate all increment withholdings of non-teaching staff members. The Commission cited, but did not follow, Flemington-Raritan Bd. of Ed., P.E.R.C. No. 2003-64, 29 NJPER 113 (¶34 2003) and Atlantic City Bd. of Ed., P.E.R.C. No. 2003-72 29 NJPER 180 (¶53 2003).
City of Elizabeth and PBA Local No. 4
In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-78, the Commission denied a request for a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance contesting the denial of extra duty work permits for certain police officers due to alleged excessive absenteeism. The Commission found that the City failed to show, or even allege, that the attendance records of the affected officers were such that they were unqualified to perform extra duty work.
City of Hoboken and International Association of Firefighters Local 1076
In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-79, the Commission dismissed a Complaint alleging that the City violated the Act by directing fire captains to submit reports indicating whether they heard anyone physically threaten another captain during union meetings. The Commission found that the City had a legal obligation to investigate a complaint and that a nexus existed between the alleged misconduct and the workplace given the paramilitary structure of the fire department.
Elizabeth Board of Education and Elizabeth Education Association
In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-74, the Commission found that the content of a memorandum placed in a teacher’s personnel file that criticized the teacher for an allegedly inappropriate conversation with a parent and threatened further action should the pattern continue, could not be challenged in arbitration, but that the portion of the memorandum that directed that the teacher speak to parents only in the presence of an administrator could be challenged in arbitration. Since at least 1986, the Commission had distinguished between benign forms of constructive criticism that could not be challenged in arbitration, and disciplinary reprimands that could be challenged in arbitration.
Kearny Board of Education and Kearny Education Association
In P.E.R.C. No. 2016-73, the Commission reaffirmed its holding that N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.5 prohibits negotiations over horizontal salary guide movement tied to coursework that does not conform to the statute because it is: not related to the employee’s current or future job responsibilities; for courses that are not taken at accredited institutions as defined by statute; and for courses that are not necessarily pre-approved by the superintendent.