City of Newark and Service Employees International Union, Local 167
In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-9, the Commission reaffirmed that public employers in Civil Service jurisdictions may agree to arbitrate disciplinary terminations of provisional employees but also holds that any arbitral remedy cannot conflict with Civil Service laws.
Pleasantville Board of Education and Pleasantville Education Association
In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-8, the Commission denied a request for a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance alleging that two untenured non-certified employees were terminated without just cause. The Commission rejected the Board’s argument that arbitration was preempted by the District Fiscal Accountability Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:7A-54 et seq. and that it could not defend the actions at arbitration because the State monitor, not the Board, terminated the employees. The Commission noted that the Accountability Act makes a State monitor’s authority “subject to the education, labor, and employment laws” and a district’s collective negotiations agreement.
Essex Fells Board of Education and Essex Fells Teachers Association
In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-2, the Commission found that the Board had a managerial prerogative to set the teachers’ work year. For at least the past 25 years, the start of the teacher work year was never in August. For the 205-2016 school year, the Board set September 2 as the start of the student school year and the Association offered to begin the teacher work year of September 1. The Commission found that the Board had a managerial prerogative to begin the teacher work year on August 31.
Township of Barnegat and Barnegat Township PBA Local 296
In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-74, the Commission permitted arbitration over a claim that the employer breached the parties’ contract when it changed health insurance carriers. The Commission restrained arbitration to the extent the grievance alleged that an increase in Chapter 78 contributions was based on the inclusion of the cost of dental and/or vision coverage. The Commission also restrained arbitration to the extent that the grievance sought to enforce an opt-out or waiver payment in excess of the maximum set by N.J.S.A. 40A:10-17.1 and N.J.S.A. 52:14-17.31a (25% of the amount saved by the Township because of the employee’s waiver or $5,000, whichever is less).
Queen City Academy Charter School and Queen City Education Association
In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-72, the Commission ordered the dismissal of a decertification petition after finding that the Charter School encouraged and supported the decertification effort. Among other things, the Charter School released a strategic plan identifying unionization as a threat to the goals and objectives of the school and invited an organization opposed to the Association and the NJEA to present to staff during a mandatory professional day.
Fort Lee Board of Education and Fort Lee Education Association
In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-71, the Commission rejected a Hearing Examiner’s finding that the Board violated the Employer-Employee Relations Act by announcing to staff, parents, and students that the reason for its decision to eliminate spring break was a result of the Association’s grievance challenging the school calendar and subsequent refusal to negotiate an exchange of instructional days for professional development days. The Commission adopted the Hearing Examiner’s finding that the Board violated the Act when it failed to respond to the Association’s impact negotiations demand.
Somerset Hills Board of Education and Somerset Hills Education Association
In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-70, the Commission rejected a Hearing Examiner’s conclusion that the Board violated the Employer-Employee Relations Act by sending two letters to Association members setting forth the Board’s then-current negotiations offers in violation of the parties’ ground rules for negotiations. The Commission held that an isolated breach of a ground rule is not a per se violation of the Act. Considering the totality of the circumstances, the Commission concluded that even if the Board’s action in sending letters to employees amounted to a technical violation of ground rules, the evidence did not establish that the Board refused to negotiate in good faith.