On May 16, 2009, the Public Employment Relations Commission (“PERC”) issued a decision in response to certain unfair practice charges and requests for interim relief filed against the State of New Jersey regarding the imposition of unpaid, “furlough” days. 

By way of background, on April 14, 2009, the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO (“CWA”), filed an unfair practice charge and a request for interim relief against the State of New Jersey. CWA alleged that the State committed unfair practices proscribed by the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act by: (1) unilaterally imposing a reduction in the work year and compensation of employees represented by CWA by requiring them to take unpaid leave days; (2) failing to negotiate over the effects of the decision to impose involuntary unpaid leave days; and (3) conspiring with the Civil Service Commission to enact temporary layoff rules for the purpose of circumventing the State’s obligation to negotiate over staggered unpaid leave days. The charges alleged that, through these actions, the State repudiated various sections of the collective negotiations agreements it has entered into with CWA and breached its duty to negotiate over terms and conditions of employment in violation of the Employer-Employee Relations Act. Additional charges and requests for interim relief were filed between April 14 and April 29 by other employee organizations representing units of various State employees, including P.B.A. 105.

An order to show cause was executed and the return date was ultimately scheduled on May 14. Once numerous briefs, certifications, and exhibits were filed, all parties appeared on the return date.  After entertaining argument, the Commission Designee Stuart Reichman, in an extensive written opinion, denied the applications for interim relief. The Designee found that where a monetary remedy could normally be issued by the Commission in the event the furloughs were found to constitute an unfair practice, as is the case here, an injunction to prevent the institution of the furloughs is not appropriate because monetary loss does not constitute irreparable harm. As a result, the unfair practice charges will proceed in the normal course. To read the decision in its entirety, download the same from the PERC website.