In a non-published opinion, the Appellate Division for the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled that the Public Employment Relations Commission’s (PERC) decision to restrain binding arbitration of a grievance filed by PBA Local 105 for the payment of compensatory time off for work performed by essential employees during the 2006 governmental shutdown was lawful. In 2006, under a declaration of emergency, Governor Jon Corzine shut down the operation of the State of New Jersey due to the government’s failure to agree upon an operating budget. In the case of State of New Jersey Department of Corrections v. PBA Local 105, 32-2-0507, a ruling from PERC upholding a Scope of Negotiations petition filed by the State of New Jersey concerning the union’s inability to grieve essential employee compensation under N.J.A.C. 4A:6-2.5(d) was reviewed. Under New Jersey labor law, employees may only grieve alleged negotiated contractual violations that have not been previously legislated by the State of New Jersey.
In this instance, the Appellate Court found that under N.J.A.C. 4A:6-2.5(d), the New Jersey Department of Personnel left no doubt that any compensation originating from a declaration of emergency is determined by statute under subsection 4A of the New Jersey Administrative Code. Therefore the payment of compensatory time off during a state of emergency was preempted from negotiations and not grievable. The bottom line is if you are deemed an essential employee and you are called in to work during an emergency while all non-essential personnel are home enjoying the day off, you will get compensated at your regular rate of pay, and no more.