As reported by nj.com, East Windsor Township employees fighting to claim an extra paycheck from 2009 emerged victorious this week when an appellate court ruled that the township must pay them the additional wages. In a decision upholding an arbitrator’s ruling, the appellate court found that the seven members of the Teamsters Local Union 676-all non-uniformed police dispatchers and secretaries-were entitled to the extra paycheck that resulted from the calendar that year. Each employee will receive about $1,500 as a result of the ruling.
“We consider it a victory, but it’s a shame it had to go this far,” said Howard Wells, union president. “The arbitrator ruled in our favor, and the township decided to spend money to fight the decision. I don’t know why. Sometimes people just get it in their gut and they just want to take it on.”
The union sought relief in the appellate court when a trial judge overturned an arbitrator’s ruling that the union members are entitled to the extra pay. The calendar configuration in 2009 created an extra pay period, meaning that township employees who are paid biweekly, received 27 instead of 26 checks. Toa void overpaying its salaried employees, the township opted to divide annual salaries by 27 and issue smaller paychecks than usual each week.
The township notified its employees of the plan in late 2008. Local 676 objected, saying its members were hourly, not salaried employees, and are entitled to overtime pay. “We expect the township to pay our members their appropriate rate of pay for every day they work,” the union wrote.
When the township proceeded with its plan in 2009, the union filed a grievance that was heard by an arbitrator, who ruled in favor of the union in April 2010. The arbitrator ruled that the employees are hourly, not salaried employees and found that the township violated the union contract by reducing members’ weekly paychecks.
A trial judge overturned that decision but the appellate court reinstated it, ruling that an arbitrator’s decision will stand as long as it is proven plausible based on the contract.