July 21, 2015
Compiled by Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel
New Jersey’s highest court ruled July 14, that it is legal for three municipalities to furlough workers without negotiating with unions first, because “economic reasons are indisputably a legitimate basis for a layoff of any type.”
The 4-1 decision upheld unpaid furloughs by Belmar, Mount Laurel, and Keyport in 2009, after the state’s Civil Service Commission had declared a fiscal emergency because of the recession. “There is no room for mandatory negotiation in the determination to reduce a workforce,” Justice Jaynee LaVecchia wrote. In dissent, Justice Barry Albin said the ruling gives municipal employers “the unilateral power to reduce the wages and hours of public employees promised in collective negotiations agreements.” “Fifty years of collective bargaining history, legal history, gets overturned in seconds,” said Hetty Rosenstein, state director for the Communications Workers of America, one of the plaintiffs, calling it “a horrible, horrible decision.” Read more here.