Senator LINDA R. GREENSTEIN
District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)
Provides exclusive jurisdiction to PERC for certain unfair labor practice claims.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission and supplementing P.L.1941, c.100 (C.34:13A-1 et seq.).
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. The Legislature finds and declares that:
a. For many years, the prevailing understanding of the law, consistent with the “New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act,” P.L.1941, c.100 (C.34:13A-1 et seq.), the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. s.151 et seq., and judicial decisions, has been that claims that public sector labor organizations breached the duty of fair representation are subject to the six-month statute of limitations in the “New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act;”
b. In a recent federal court decision, Farber v. City of Paterson 440 F.3d 131 (3d Cir. 2006), the court held that the six-year statue of limitations for any tortious injury provided by N.J.S.2A:14-1 applies to duty of fair representation claims against public sector labor organizations in New Jersey; and
c. That decision is at odds with the long established understanding and practice of the law in New Jersey and constitutes an incorrect application of the law in New Jersey, both now, and as it has existed since its enactment.
2. For purposes of this act:
“Labor organization” means any association, organization, agency, or person authorized or designated by a public employee, group of public employees or a public employee association or organization to act on its behalf or to represent it or them. The term “labor organization” shall also apply to any organization which is affiliated with a labor organization, irrespective of whether the affiliate is a local, county, state, or national organization and irrespective of whether the affiliate provides direct services to or represents members of the bargaining unit represented by a labor organization which is the majority representative of employees in a bargaining unit. In determining whether an organization, agency, or person is a labor organization as defined by this act, the method by which the organization, agency, or person became authorized to act on behalf of a public employee, group of public employees or public employees’ organization or association shall not be a determining factor, meaning that this act shall apply to all such organizations, whether recognized voluntarily by a public employer, through an election held by the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission, or by the filing of cards by employees requesting or authorizing such representation.
“Representative” means an individual representative or a labor organization, whether or not the individual representative is employed by the labor organization, and whether or not the labor organization is limited in its membership to the employees of the employer whose employees it represents.
3. a. This act shall apply to all claims for legal relief, equitable relief, administrative relief, or any other remedy against any labor organization, its members, employees, officers, or representatives for any harm, damages, losses, or injuries which result from, arise from, are caused by, or are related in any manner whatsoever to representation or lack of representation provided to a member or bargaining unit member of a labor organization, or which arise from, relate to, or are asserted as a result of a labor organization’s acts or omissions in collective bargaining, grievance processing, arbitration, contract administration, or pursuit of, or refusal or failure to pursue, any judicial or administrative action.
b. Except as provided in subsection c. of this section, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission shall have exclusive jurisdiction of all claims specified in subsection a. of this section and no court or other administrative agency shall have jurisdiction over any such claim.
c. This act shall not be construed as preventing any appeal of a determination, decision, ruling or order of the commission to a court as provided by section 1 of P.L.1974, c.123 (C.34:13A-5.4) or as preventing the commission from applying, pursuant to that section, to a court for an order enforcing an order of the commission.
4. This act shall provide the sole and exclusive remedy and procedure for all claims specified in subsection a. of section 3 of this act. All claims specified in subsection a. of section 3 of this act, except as otherwise provided in subsection c. of section 3 of this act, shall be:
a. Pursued only in the manner and in the forum prescribed by this act, and shall not be filed in any other court, agency, or other tribunal, and no court, agency, or other tribunal shall have jurisdiction over, or the authority to hear, consider, or adjudicate any such claims;
b. Cognizable only before the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission, and shall be cognizable only as unfair labor practices for breach of the duty of fair representation under subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.1974, c.123 (C.34:13A-5.4); and
c. Subject to the rules, regulations, and procedures of the commission governing unfair practices, as set forth in section 1 of P.L.1974, c.123 (C.34:13A-5.4) and any implementing regulations.
5. No complaint shall be issued, and no other action shall be taken, regarding any charge or claim of an unfair practice specified in subsection a. of section 3 of this act, if the charge or claim regarding the unfair practice is filed more than six months after the unfair practice occurred, unless the person aggrieved by the unfair practice was prevented from filing the charge or claim during the six-month time period after the unfair practice occurred, in which case the six month time limit shall be computed from the day that the person was no longer prevented from filing.
6. This act shall apply to all charges of unfair practices based on claims specified in subsection a. of section 3 of this act, irrespective of the date or dates that the acts or omissions upon which the charges or claims are based occurred, and irrespective of whether those acts or omissions occurred before the effective date of this act.
7. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill provides exclusive jurisdiction to the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission of all claims against any labor organization, or its members or representatives, for any harm, damages, losses, or injuries from representation or lack of representation provided to a member or bargaining unit member of a labor organization from the labor organization’s acts or omissions in collective bargaining, grievance processing, arbitration, contract administration, or its pursuit of, or failure to pursue, any judicial or administrative action. The bill states that no court or administrative agency, other than the commission, shall have jurisdiction over any such claim, except for appeals made to courts, of commission determinations, decisions, rulings or orders.