Four New Jersey unions are asking a court to stop mandatory furloughs of public workers. Yesterday, March 30, 2009, the New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association and the Communication Workers of America, which collectively represent 93,000 police officers, firefighters and rank-and-file state and municipal workers, filed separate actions in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. The Probation Association of New Jersey and the Firemen’s Benevolent Association also filed similar suits. The actions seek to block a new Civil Service Commission rule giving the Governor and local governing bodies emergency power to impose temporary layoffs because of the economic crisis.

As stated in a previous blog entry, Governor Corzine and the State of New Jersey intend on instituting a mandatory furlough program, which requires various State of New Jersey employees to absorb unpaid days of absence from their position of employment. Initially, the mandatory furlough program requires certain State employees to absorb two (2) unpaid days of absence from the workplace, specifically one day each in May and June 2009. Thereafter, the State seeks to extend the mandatory furlough program into Fiscal Year 2010, whereby certain State employees are to absorb twelve (12) unpaid days of absence from the workplace, one day each month for the entire fiscal year.

To accomplish this goal, on March 25, 2009, the Civil Service Commission adopted, on less than 24 hours notice, a new, emergency rule, N.J.A.C. 4A:8-1.1, to permit “temporary layoffs,” or furloughs, for both State and local employees. The Commission did so without any notice to the parties who would be immediately affected by this action and without an opportunity to discuss the proposed rule. It is this rule which is being challenged by the various unions.

It goes without saying these lawsuits are of vital importance to any law enforcement officer, firefighter, and State of New Jersey employee. The outcomes of these actions might very well have a drastic impact not only on any and all State employees, but the public at large. As a result, please consult this blog periodically to ascertain updates regarding the status of these lawsuits.