ASSEMBLY, No. 2243

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

213th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 25, 2008

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman JOSEPH CRYAN

District 20 (Union)

Assemblywoman L. GRACE SPENCER

District 29 (Essex and Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes timeframes for certain stages in interest arbitration procedures.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning interest arbitration and amending P.L.1977, c.85.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  Section 3 of P.L.1977, c.85 (C.34:13A-16) is amended to read as follows:

     3.  a.  (1)  Negotiations between a public fire or police department and an exclusive representative concerning the terms and conditions of employment shall begin at least 120 days prior to the day on which their collective negotiation agreement is to expire.  The parties shall meet at least three times during that 120-day period.  The first of those three meetings shall take place no later than the 90th day prior to the day on which their collective negotiation agreement is to expire.  By mutual consent, the parties may agree to extend the period during which the second and third meetings are required to take place beyond the day on which their collective negotiation agreement is to expire.  A violation of this paragraph shall constitute an unfair practice and the violator shall be subject to the penalties prescribed by the commission pursuant to rule and regulation.

     (2)   Whenever those negotiations concerning the terms and conditions of employment shall reach an impasse, the commission, through the Division of Public Employment Relations shall, upon the request of either party, or upon its own motion take such steps, including the assignment of a mediator, as it may deem expedient to effect a voluntary resolution of the impasse.  If the impasse is not resolved within 60 days of the assignment of the mediator, the mediation shall be terminated.

     b.  (1)  In the event of a failure to resolve the impasse by mediation, the Division of Public Employment Relations, at the request of either party, shall invoke factfinding with recommendation for settlement of all issues in dispute unless the parties reach a voluntary settlement prior to the issuance of the factfinder's report and recommended terms of settlement. Factfindings shall be limited to those issues that are within the required scope of negotiations unless the parties to the factfinding agree to factfinding on permissive subjects of negotiation.  In the event of a [continuing] failure to resolve an impasse by means of the procedure set forth in this paragraph[, and notwithstanding the fact that such procedures have not been exhausted] within 60 days of it being initiated, the parties shall notify the commission, at a time and in a manner prescribed by the commission, as to whether or not they have agreed upon a terminal procedure for resolving the issues in dispute.  Any terminal procedure mutually agreed upon by the parties shall be reduced to writing, provide for finality in resolving the issues in dispute, and shall be submitted to the commission for approval.

     (2)   Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (2) of subsection a. of this section or paragraph (1) of this subsection, either party may petition the commission for arbitration on or after the date on which their collective negotiation agreement expires. The petition shall be filed in a manner and form prescribed by the commission.  The party filing the petition shall notify the other party of its action. The notice shall be given in a manner and form prescribed by the commission.

     Within 10 days of the receipt of the notice by the non-petitioning party, the parties shall notify the commission as to whether or not they have agreed upon a terminal procedure for resolving the issues in dispute.  Any terminal procedure mutually agreed upon by the parties shall be reduced to writing, provide for finality in resolving the issues in dispute, and shall be submitted to the commission for approval.  If the parties fail to agree on a terminal procedure, they shall be subject to the provisions of subsection d. of this section.

     c.     Terminal procedures that are approvable include, but shall not be limited to the following:

     (1)   Conventional arbitration of all unsettled items.

     (2)   Arbitration under which the award by an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators is confined to a choice between (a) the last offer of the employer and (b) the last offer of the employees' representative, as a single package.

     (3)   Arbitration under which the award is confined to a choice between (a) the last offer of the employer and (b) the last offer of the employees' representative, on each issue in dispute, with the decision on an issue-by-issue basis.

     (4)   If there is a factfinder's report with recommendations on the issues in dispute, the parties may agree to arbitration under which the award would be confined to a choice among three positions:  (a) the last offer of the employer as a single package, (b) the last offer of the employees' representative as a single package, or (c) the factfinder's recommendations as a single package.

     (5)   If there is a factfinder's report with a recommendation on each of the issues in dispute, the parties may agree to arbitration under which the award would be confined to a choice on each issue from among three positions:  (a) the last offer of the employer on the issue, (b) the employee representative's last offer on the issue, or (c) the factfinder's recommendation on the issue.

     (6)   Arbitration under which the award on the economic issues in dispute is confined to a choice between (a) the last offer of the employer on the economic issues as a single package and (b) the employee representative's last offer on the economic issues as a single package; and, on any noneconomic issues in dispute, the award is confined to a choice between (a) the last offer of the employer on each issue in dispute and (b) the employee representative's last offer on that issue.

     d.    The following procedure shall be utilized if parties fail to agree on a terminal procedure for the settlement of an impasse dispute:

     (1)   In the event of a failure of the parties to agree upon an acceptable terminal procedure the parties shall separately so notify the commission in writing, indicating all issues in dispute and the reasons for their inability to agree on the procedure.  The substance of a written notification shall not provide the basis for any delay in effectuating the provisions of this subsection.

     (2)   Upon receipt of such notification from either party or on the commission's own motion, the procedure to provide finality for the resolution of issues in dispute shall be binding arbitration under which the award on the unsettled issues is determined by conventional arbitration.  The arbitrator shall separately determine whether the total net annual economic changes for each year of the agreement are reasonable under the nine statutory criteria set forth in subsection g. of this section.

     e.     (1) The commission shall take measures to assure the impartial selection of an arbitrator or arbitrators from its special panel of arbitrators.  Unless the parties, in a time and manner prescribed by the commission, mutually agree upon the selection of an arbitrator from the commission's special panel of arbitrators and so notify the commission in writing of that selection, the assignment of any arbitrator for the purposes of this act shall be the responsibility of the commission, independent of and without any participation by either of the parties.  The commission shall select the arbitrator for assignment by lot.

     In any proceeding where an arbitrator selected by mutual agreement is unable to serve, the two parties shall be afforded an opportunity to select a replacement.  If the two parties are unable to mutually agree upon the selection of a replacement within a time period prescribed by the commission, the commission shall select the replacement in the manner hereinafter provided.

     In any proceeding where an assigned arbitrator is unable to serve or, pursuant to the preceding paragraph, the two parties are unable to mutually agree upon a replacement, the commission shall assign a replacement arbitrator.  The assignment shall be the responsibility of the commission, independent of and without any participation by either of the parties.  The commission shall select the replacement arbitrator for assignment by lot.

     (2)   Appointment to the commission's special panel of arbitrators shall be for a three-year term, with reappointment contingent upon a screening process similar to that used for determining initial appointments.

     The commission may suspend, remove, or otherwise discipline an arbitrator for a violation of P.L.1977, c.85 (C.34:13A-14 et seq.), section 4 of P.L.1995, c.425 (C.34:13A-16.1) or for good cause.

     f.     (1) At a time prescribed by the commission, the parties shall submit to the arbitrator or tripartite panel of arbitrators their final offers on each economic and non-economic issue in dispute.  The offers submitted pursuant to this section shall be used by the arbitrator for the purposes of determining an award pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection d. of this section.  The commission shall promulgate rules and procedures governing the submission of the offers required under this paragraph, including when those offers shall be deemed final, binding and irreversible.

     (2)   In the event of a dispute, the commission shall have the power to decide which issues are economic issues.  Economic issues include those items which have a direct relation to employee income including wages, salaries, hours in relation to earnings, and other forms of compensation such as paid vacation, paid holidays, health and medical insurance, and other economic benefits to employees.

     (3)   Throughout formal arbitration proceedings the chosen arbitrator or panel of arbitrators may mediate or assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable settlement.

     (4)   Arbitration shall be limited to those subjects that are within the required scope of collective negotiations, except that the parties may agree to submit to arbitration one or more permissive subjects of negotiation.

     (5)   The decision of an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators shall include an opinion and an award, and shall be rendered within 120 days of the selection of the arbitrator by the mutual agreement of both parties or the commission's assignment of that arbitrator or panel of arbitrators, as the case may be, pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection e. of this section[; provided, however, the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators, for good cause, may petition the commission for an extension of not more than 60 days].  The two parties, by mutual consent, may agree to an extension of not more than 90 days.  The parties shall notify the arbitrator and the commission of any such agreement in writing.  The notice shall set forth the specific date on which the extension shall expire.  Any arbitrator or panel of arbitrators violating the provisions of this paragraph may be subject to the commission's powers under paragraph (2) of subsection e. of this section.  The decision shall be final and binding upon the parties and shall be irreversible, except:

     (a)   Within 14 days of receiving an award, an aggrieved party may file notice of an appeal of an award to the commission on the grounds that the arbitrator failed to apply the criteria specified in subsection g. of this section or violated the standards set forth in N.J.S.2A:24-8 or N.J.S.2A:24-9.  The appeal shall be filed in a form and manner prescribed by the commission.  In deciding an appeal, the commission, pursuant to rule and regulation and upon petition, may afford the parties the opportunity to present oral arguments. The commission may affirm, modify, correct or vacate the award or may, at its discretion, remand the award to the same arbitrator or to another arbitrator, selected by lot, for reconsideration.  An aggrieved party may appeal a decision of the commission to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.

     (b)   An award that is not appealed to the commission shall be implemented immediately.  An award that is appealed and not set aside by the commission shall be implemented within 14 days of the receipt of the commission's decision absent a stay.

     (6)   The parties shall bear the costs of arbitration subject to a fee schedule approved by the commission.

     g.     The arbitrator or panel of arbitrators shall decide the dispute based on a reasonable determination of the issues, giving due weight to those factors listed below that are judged relevant for the resolution of the specific dispute.  In the award, the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators shall indicate which of the factors are deemed relevant, satisfactorily explain why the others are not relevant, and provide an analysis of the evidence on each relevant factor:

     (1)   The interests and welfare of the public.  Among the items the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators shall assess when considering this factor are the limitations imposed upon the employer by P.L.1976, c.68 (C.40A:4-45.1 et seq.).

     (2)   Comparison of the wages, salaries, hours, and conditions of employment of the employees involved in the arbitration proceedings with the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of other employees performing the same or similar services and with other employees generally:

     (a)   In private employment in general; provided, however, each party shall have the right to submit additional evidence for the arbitrator's consideration.

     (b)   In public employment in general; provided, however, each party shall have the right to submit additional evidence for the arbitrator's consideration.

     (c)   In public employment in the same or similar comparable jurisdictions, as determined in accordance with section 5 of P.L.1995, c.425 (C.34:13A-16.2); provided, however, that each party shall have the right to submit additional evidence concerning the comparability of jurisdictions for the arbitrator's consideration.

     (3)   The overall compensation presently received by the employees, inclusive of direct wages, salary, vacations, holidays, excused leaves, insurance and pensions, medical and hospitalization benefits, and all other economic benefits received.

     (4)   Stipulations of the parties.

     (5)   The lawful authority of the employer.  Among the items the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators shall assess when considering this factor are the limitations imposed upon the employer by P.L.1976, c.68 (C.40A:4-45.1 et seq.).

     (6)   The financial impact on the governing unit, its residents and taxpayers.  When considering this factor in a dispute in which the public employer is a county or a municipality, the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators shall take into account, to the extent that evidence is introduced, how the award will affect the municipal or county purposes element, as the case may be, of the local property tax; a comparison of the percentage of the municipal purposes element or, in the case of a county, the county purposes element, required to fund the employees' contract in the preceding local budget year with that required under the award for the current local budget year; the impact of the award for each income sector of the property taxpayers of the local unit; the impact of the award on the ability of the governing body to (a) maintain existing local programs and services, (b) expand existing local programs and services for which public moneys have been designated by the governing body in a proposed local budget, or (c) initiate any new programs and services for which public moneys have been designated by the governing body in a proposed local budget.

     (7)   The cost of living.

     (8)   The continuity and stability of employment including seniority rights and such other factors not confined to the foregoing which are ordinarily or traditionally considered in the determination of wages, hours, and conditions of employment through collective negotiations and collective bargaining between the parties in the public service and in private employment.

     (9)   Statutory restrictions imposed on the employer.  Among the items the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators shall assess when considering this factor are the limitations imposed upon the employer by section 10 of P.L.2007, c.62 (C.40A:4-45.45).

     h.     A mediator, factfinder, or arbitrator while functioning in a mediatory capacity shall not be required to disclose any files, records, reports, documents, or other papers classified as confidential received or prepared by him or to testify with regard to mediation, conducted by him under this act on behalf of any party to any cause pending in any type of proceeding under this act. Nothing contained herein shall exempt such an individual from disclosing information relating to the commission of a crime.

(cf:  P.L. 2007, c.62, s.14)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the second month following enactment and shall apply collective negotiation agreements expiring on and after that day.


STATEMENT

 

     This bill is designed to facilitate the timely resolution of contract disputes between public employers, both the State and local governmental units, and their police and fire departments by establishing statutory timeframes for certain phases of the arbitration process.

     Currently, there are no time restrictions imposed on the mediation and factfinding stages of police and fire contract negotiations.  Under the provisions of this bill, a 60 day limit is established for each of those stages.

     If the parties go to interest arbitration, the arbitrator, or panel of arbitrators, is to render a decision within 120 days.  In many cases that deadline is passed over, either because the arbitrator, or panel of arbitrators, request an extension or the parties in the dispute mutually agree to an extension.

     This bill eliminates the authority of an arbitrator, or panel of arbitrators, to request any extension of the negotiations, requiring them to issue their opinion and award within 120 days.  The bill also sets a time limit for any extension requested by the parties in the dispute.  Under the bill, a mutually requested extension would be limited to 90 days.