June 5, 2009 New Developments with Current Corrections
Re: Employee Furloughs in Civil Service Jurisdictions
In our May 6 letter (http://www.njslom.org/ml050609_civil_service.html), we had reported on the Civil Service Commission’s emergency ruling, which permitted temporary employee furloughs/layoffs in Civil Service jurisdictions. Since that time, several unions challenged this rule.
The Appellate Court held that the practice which existed before the rule allowing for temporary layoffs/furloughs as part of a full department closure were valid. However, that court called into question the validity of staggered furloughs and stayed that part of the rule. The court sent the case to PERC and several unions filed companion unfair labor practice charges at PERC. The Commission’s hearing officer held that the question of staggered furloughs was negotiable in non-civil service localities and did not address the question with any finality in civil service jurisdictions, creating more uncertainty. The Appellate Division stay of the rule continues in the aftermath of the PERC Hearing Officer’s decision.
Against this background, yesterday, Governor Corzine announced an agreement with the largest State employees union, CWA, addressed the furlough rule. The Governor’s Press Release can be accessed online at http://www.state.nj.us/governor/news/news/2009/approved/20090604a.html. It states, in part, “The agreement ... places a moratorium on a recently adopted civil service rule on furloughs pending further study.”
We are informed that the study will include representatives of local government as part of a sixteen member Study Commission headed by representatives of the Civil Service Commission and PERC that will address the issues and uncertainties created by the decisions. We will have a voice and seat at the table in those deliberations and study.
In the interim, the law as it existed before the rule continues to be in place and local government retains the rights and remedies it had prior to the adoption of the rule. I know that many of you have been studying this issue and that only a small number of you have submitted plans so if you were planning temporary furloughs, or have submitted plans please bring this to the attention of your municipal attorney and your labor relations counsel.
We have not yet seen the text of the agreement and will keep you posted on this and any further developments.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.