April 3, 2014
Re: URGENT LEGISLATIVE ALERT
NEED ACTION ON INTEREST ARBITRATION CAP
It’s been a week since the Governor conditionally vetoed and the State Senate approved the bill extending the 2% cap on interest arbitration awards. (See our March 27 Dear Mayor Letter). The League supports the Governor’s recommendations to the Interest Arbitration bill.
Please contact your Assembly representatives as soon as possible to urge them to concur with the Governor’s amendments as time is of the essence. Unless the cap is reinstatedarbitrators will be able to impose awards,for all future expiring contracts similar to those issued prior to the implementation of the 2% cap. Such excessive awards could immediately threaten funding for all other municipal services. And, in the not-too-distant future, such awards could force local budget makers to reduce public safety staffing levels, as fewer local employees steadily take home higher percentages of local funds.
With the Governor’s recommendations, the bill now does the following:
- Removes the “one bite at the apple” language
- Extends the deadline from April 1, 2014 to December 31, 2017
- Removes the entire section of the bill, which included in the definition of base salary the savings the employer realized due to the employee’s chapter 78 health benefits contribution and any savings from the reduction in force.
- Removes the ability of an arbitrator to increase salary awards up to 3% due to the savings from health benefits contributions and reduction in force.
- Keeps the random selection of arbitrators on the first business day following the receipt of an interest arbitration petition.
- Changes the language on the mandatory mediation upon the filing of the petition for arbitration to make the initial meeting a mediation session to effect a voluntary resolution of impasse. It also removes the prohibition to begin the arbitration process for 14 days following that initial meeting.
- Keeps the Task Force and requires the final report due on or before December 31, 2017.
- Retains the changes that were recommended in the Interest Arbitration report by both parties – 90 calendar days for arbitration decision, 14 calendar days for an appeal, 60 calendar days for a decision of an appeal, and arbitrator salary increase remain in the bill.
We want to thank the Governor and Senate President Sweeney for their leadership on this issue as well as the full Senate for acting swiftly on this important time sensitive issue. The amended bill, reflecting the conditional veto is available online at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/S2000/1869_R1.PDF
Questions on this legislation can be directed to either Lori Buckelew at 609-695-3481 or firstname.lastname@example.org x112 or Mike Cerra at 609-695-3481 x120 or email@example.com.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.