1435 Morris Avenue - Suite 3A, Union, NJ 07083
Tim Haresign, President

Council Legal Victories

Our local unions are now empowered to negotiate procedures for the granting of tenure to administrators or regular faculty upon hire. The battle started with a grievance and ended up at the Public Employment Relations Commission when the State sought to restrain arbitration. PERC ruled against the State’s claim that the State law that allowed the state colleges/universities to grant tenure upon hire precluded negotiations regarding procedures. These procedures may include a review process whereby faculty recommend for or against the granting of instant tenure. Ultimately the final decision will remain in the hands of the administration. However the priniple of negotiations has been legally confirmed.

At William Paterson University (WPUNJ), the administration refused to negotiate with the local over compensation for adjunct faculty who were required to undergo approximately 90 minutes of on-line training on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. When the Council filed for arbitration, the State filed its own charge with PERC seeking to restrain the arbitration. It was subsequently dismissed. Meanwhile, the arbitration took place, resulting in a favorable decision mandating negotiations. Since then, the local has successfully negotiated compensation for adjunct faculty who participated in the training.

A settlement along the same lines was proposed by the Council and local union at an early stage in the litigation and rejected. The fact that the WPUNJ administration fought this battle to the bitter end at the expense of a modicum of justice for adjunct faculty remains a matter of concern.

The State sought to summarily dismiss a charge filed by the Council alleging that Kean University unlawfully refused to negotiate with the local regarding compensation for attending mandatory training sessions during winter break. PERC rejected the State’s claim and scheduled the matter for a full evidentiary hearing. One day of hearing has taken place.  A second and final day will take place in March.  It will then be up to PERC to issue its decision.

As you may know, the State froze all increments (salary step increases) upon the expiration of the 2011-2015 Agreement.  The Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) held in two cases arising from Atlantic County in 2013-14 that management had that right, but in 2016, the Superior Court reversed the PERC decisions, restoring the doctrine of “dynamic status quo” which holds that the payment of increments is an established term and condition of employment that survives the expiration of a collective negotiations agreement.

The Council filed a grievance under Article XXII D over the increment freeze when it was instituted in 2015 and another grievance in response to the Superior Court decision in the Atlantic County cases.  A Step One hearing in this matter was held on September 2016.  It was not until February 2017 that the State’s designated Hearing Officer issued a report.  To no one’s surprise, she upheld the State’s increment freeze.

The Council has appealed the grievance to arbitration, where it will be represented by attorney Kevin McGovern.  Meanwhile the Council continues to insist in negotiations that any contract settlement includes retroactive payment of increments.

The Kean Federation of Teachers (Local 2187) scored a major victory in Superior Court in a case it brought under the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). In 2014, a faculty member received a notice of non-reappointment.  The board of trustees approved the non-reappointment at a closed door meeting, however under the law, the employee (and other non-reappointed employees) were entitled to receive a notice giving them an opportunity to made a case for their reappointment to the board in public session.   “The public policy of transparency and accountability in the OPMA demand that we hold the board accountable for failure to adhere to both the text and the values underlying the OPMA,” the appellate decision said.  Kean University is considering appealing the decision.

This is yet another example of how the Kean administration runs roughshod over employee rights. This time, however, it got caught.