Commission Finds That Charter School Violated the Act When It Encouraged and Supported Effort to Decertify Association

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.

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Commission Rejects Hearing Examiner’s Recommendation and Rules That Board Did Not Retaliate When It Changed School Calendar

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.

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Commission Rejects Hearing Examiner’s Recommendation and Holds That Isolated Breach of Negotiations Ground Rule Is Not An Unfair Practice

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.

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Commission Permits Hearing Over Whether University and Subcontractor Are Joint Employers

State of New Jersey Kean University and IFPTE Local 195

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-65, the Commission denied a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of an unfair practice charge that claimed that the University violated the Employer-Employee Relations Act by subcontracting work performed by negotiations unit members while retaining control of working conditions of the contractor’s employees, thereby making the University and the subcontractor join employers.  The Commission ruled that a determination of the degree of control the University exerted over the subcontracted employees depended upon the facts and therefore summary judgment was denied so that a full record could be developed.  The Commission nevertheless opined that the observations of the Local Union President fell far short of establishing that the University controls the economic or non-economic conditions of employment of the subcontractor employees.

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Commission Permits Arbitration Over Teacher Evaluation Procedures

Paterson State-Operated School District and Paterson Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-63, the Commission denied the District’s request for a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance contesting alleged procedural violations in the implementation and submission of observation and evaluation reports, which led to a lack of summative evaluations and no incremental salary increase for some negotiations unit members.  Finding that the District had not identified how the grievance was preempted by the TEACHNJ Act or AchieveNJ regulations or shown how its decision not to issue summative evaluations was a matter of educational policy or managerial prerogative, the Commission held that an arbitrator could decide whether the District made procedural errors that resulted in a failure to issue summative evaluations, and if so, the arbitrator could issue an appropriate remedy.

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Commission Permits Arbitration Over Additional Compensation for Increase in Teachers’ Workload

Manville Board of Education and Manville Education Association

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-62, the Commission denied a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance seeking additional compensation for an alleged workload increase following the Board’s implementation of schedule changes.  The Commission found the compensation claim to be severable from the schedule changes.

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Commission Permits Arbitration Over Which Qualified Employee Was Entitled to Additional Compensation for Additional Duty

Borough of Norwood and International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 125

In P.E.R.C. No. 2017-57, the Commission denied a restraint of binding arbitration of a grievance contesting the Borough’s failure to pay additional compensation to the employee qualified in the processing of bio-diesel fuel selected by the Union.  Given the Borough’s admission that all unit members were qualified and absent any evidence that the Borough made an assessment of relative qualifications, the Commission permitted arbitration to proceed.  The Commission mistakenly applied the test for determining whether a grievance filed by a police or fire union is legally arbitrable.  However, the Commission would likely have reached the same result under the proper test.

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