Commission Permits Arbitrator to Decide if Part-time Dispatchers Are in the Negotiations Unit

Borough of Milltown and OPEIU Local 32

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-15, the Commission determined that an arbitrator could interpret the parties’ contract to determine whether certain part-time dispatchers  were covered by the collective negotiations agreement and entitled to holiday pay.

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Commission Reaffirms its Ruling Over When Employee Health Care Contributions Become Negotiable

Ridgefield Park Board of Education and Ridgefield Park Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-14, the Commission reaffirmed its decision in Clementon Bd. of Ed. and Clementon Ed. Ass’n, P.E.R.C. No. 2016-10, 42 NJPER 117 (¶34 2015), appeal dismissed as moot, 43 NJPER 125 (¶38 2016), and held that negotiations over health premium contributions cannot commence during the same collective negotiations agreement during which employees reach tier four contribution levels.  In Ridgefield Park, the parties negotiated that employees would contribute 1.5% of base salary.  The parties recognized that for the first year of the contract, Chapter 78 required employees to contribute at tier four rates.  After the Commission issued it Clementon decision, the Board notified employees that they would be returned to tier four rates for the balance of the four-year contract and that salaries would be frozen to recoup any underpayment.  The Commission restrained arbitration over the Association’s grievance except to the extent that the Association requested to negotiate over the timing and amount of recoupment.

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Commission Restrains Arbitration Over Impact of Elimination of Opt-out Payment for Waiving Health Insurance Coverage

Town of Westfield and Superior Officers Association, PBA Local 90A

In P.E.R.C. No. 2018-12, the Commission restrained arbitration over a grievance contesting the discontinuation of health insurance opt-out payments.  The Commission concluded that N.J.S.A. 40A:10-17.1 preempted opt-out payments for waiving coverage under a private health insurance plan and that negotiations unit members’ resulting loss of income was not a severable arbitrable claim.  The Commission stated that severable claims are those that flow from the exercise of a managerial prerogative and that this case did not deal with a managerial prerogative per se, but a preemptive statute that rendered the issue non-negotiable.  In addition, the Commission stated that allowing negotiations and arbitration over the asserted monetary impact would circumvent the preemptive statute.

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Commission Reaffirms Right to Arbitrate Disciplinary Terminations of Provisional Employees

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.

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Commission Permits Arbitration Over Termination of Non-certified Employees

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.

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Commission Finds Managerial Prerogative to Set Teachers’ Work Year

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.

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Commission Permits Arbitration Over Change in Health Plans

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).

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Filed under 2017