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Legislative Advocacy

Posted on: October 1, 2021

Substantial Expansion of Power for Public Sector Labor Unions

With the lame-duck session fast approaching and the Legislature is likely to reconsider the Responsible Collective Negotiations Act (S-3810/A-5862). It would substantially expand the power and influence of public sector labor unions to negotiate previously non-negotiable items at the expense of local governing bodies and property taxpayers across the state. We urge all municipalities to adopt the sample resolution opposing S-3810/A-5862.
 This legislation would eliminate a long-established precedent in public sector labor negotiations by creating permissive issues of negotiations that would broaden the category to include all collective bargaining units, eliminate the category's temporary nature, and subject previously non-negotiable items to binding arbitration. The long-term practical consequences of permissive issues of negotiations would be enormous and would undoubtedly unravel 50 years of clearly defined standards promulgated by statutory law, the courts, and the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC).
 S-3810/A-5862 permits all terms and conditions of employment that are not otherwise mandatorily negotiable and “intimately and directly affect employee work and welfare” to be subject to collective negotiations. Any dispute about whether a matter is within the scope of collective negotiations can be submitted to the PERC.
 The legislation also requires grievance procedures to provide for binding arbitration as a means for resolving disputes. Furthermore, S-3810/A-5862 mandates that binding arbitration be the final say for any dispute regardless if there is just cause for disciplinary action, including reprimands, withholding of increments, termination or non-renewal of an employment contract, expiration or lapse of an employment contract or term, or lack of continuation of employment, irrespective of the reason for the employer’s action or failure to act. The burden of proof will now be on management even where labor is the moving party.
 This legislation would ignore the multilayered and unparalleled protections already afforded public sector workers in the State of New Jersey by the Civil Service Commission, PERC, the "Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act," the collective bargaining process, and more. Local governing bodies negotiate with property taxpayer dollars and the public's vested interest in limiting the scope of labor negotiations.
 The League joins the New Jersey Municipal Managers Association (NJMMA), the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC), New Jersey Association of County Finance Officers (NJACFO), and New Jersey Association of County Administrators (NJACA) in strongly opposing S-3810/A-5862 as it will not only infringe upon the ability of public sector management to manage but it will drive up costs borne by local government and, ultimately, our taxpayers.

Contact: Lori Buckelew, Assistant Executive Director, lbuckelew@njlm.org, 609-695-3481, x112.

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