Jerry DeMarco, a reporter with the website www.examiner.com has reported that significantly more police unions around the state are turning towards interest arbitration as a means to settle their contract due to the hard line stance that many municipalities and county governments have taken during negotiations.

DeMarco reported that the average salary increase for arbitration awards dipped slightly last year, to 3.73 percent from 3.77 percent, according to the New Jersey Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC). Furthermore, salary increases from voluntary settlements averaged 3.92 percent, down from 3.97 percent in 2007. PERC records show that in Northern New Jersey, nearly a half-dozen awards made by arbitrators this year average 3.92 a year in their overall impact on police salaries over the life of the contracts.

The article further reports that a long-running contract dispute in Englewood, New Jersey, finally ended in December, with police getting a 4% hike for 2007 through 2009, and a 3.8% increase for 2010. Fort Lee police, similarly, got 4%for 2007 and 2008 and 3.5%for 2009 and 2010.  North Arlington police, who filed for arbitration nearly a year ago, were awarded 15.25%over four years in September, 2008.

Interest arbitration is always a viable option for dispute resolution when public safety unions reach an impasse with their governmental employers. The Police and Fire Public Interest Arbitration Reform Act is the statute that governs interest arbitration within the state of New Jersey; and should a public safety collective bargaining unit make the decision that contract negotiations have reached an impasse, this act will be the controlling piece of legislation in the arbitration process. 

Prior to filing for interest arbitration, it is advisable that the union’s executive board familiarize themselves with the Police and Fire Public Interest Arbitration Reform Act, and the criteria that is utilized by arbitrators in issuing an award. Furthermore, the collective bargaining unit should ensure that they do not walk into the arbitration process alone. It is imperative that they consult with and hire competent counsel prior to the initiation of the petition for interest arbitration.

 

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog (www.njpublicsafetyofficers.com) approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.