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County of Gloucester v. Public Employment Relations Commission

Decided: October 10, 1969.

COUNTY OF GLOUCESTER, BOARD OF CHOSEN FREE-HOLDERS, PUBLIC EMPLOYER-APPELLANT,
v.
PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS COMMISSION, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND TEAMSTERS LOCAL UNION NO. 676, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, RESPONDENTS



Goldmann, Lewis and Matthews. The opinion of the court was delivered by Lewis, J.A.D.

Lewis

The County of Gloucester, Board of Chosen Freeholders (herein county) appeals from a "Decision and Direction of Election" of respondent Public Employment Relations Commission (herein Commission) declaring that (1) certain "correction officers" of the county constituted a unit of employees appropriate for collective negotiations, as provided by N.J.S.A. 34:13A-6(d), and (2) the county "correction officers" were not "policemen" within the purview of N.J.S.A. 34:13A-5.3 which precludes policemen from joining an employee organization that admits to membership employees other than policemen.

We granted the Attorney General's motion to appear amicus curiae in an advisory capacity "on a question of general public interest". He argues in support of the county's contention that the officers here involved are "policemen" and may not be represented by respondent Teamsters Local Union No. 676, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America (herein union). He also argues, as do the Commission and the union, that the decision under review was an interlocutory order and that the appeal therefrom may not be maintained at this stage of the proceedings. R. 2:2-3(a). The union joins with the Commission in urging that "correction officers" are not "policemen" as contemplated by the Legislature.

The Procedural Issue

The Commission made its determination on August 20, 1969 after a hearing on the union's petition for certification as the exclusive bargaining agent for the Gloucester County

correction officers excluding "all supervisors and all other employees." The order of the Commission was subsequently implemented by the scheduling of a secret ballot election to be held on September 12, 1969.

In the interim the county, through its substituted attorneys, requested the Commission to reconsider its Decision and Direction of Election and stay the election. This request was denied and communication thereof was transmitted by telegram dated September 11, 1969, which reads in pertinent part:

The county filed its notice of appeal that same day, and, pursuant to R. 2:9-8 ("Temporary Relief in Emergent Matters"), applied for a stay of the election to a single judge of this court, who, after a hearing in chambers, all parties being represented, denied the application for a stay, ordered the returns of the election impounded until further order of this court, scheduled an accelerated date for oral argument on appeal and fixed a timetable for the filing of briefs and reply briefs.

In challenging the county's right to appeal it is argued that an order for an election by the Commission is but one step in the administrative proceedings, and that a final appealable order does not, and should not, lie until the Commission, after an election and a determination by a majority of votes cast, has certified an elected employee representative. Otherwise, the argument runs, there is a possibility of an overriding judicial obstruction in the administrative processes designed to render quick decisions in "burning representation questions."

We are referred to numerous federal cases for the proposition that representation decisions, under generally recognized

principles of labor law, are normally reviewable only where the dispute concerning the correctness of the certification "eventuates in a finding that an unfair labor practice has been committed." Cited authorities include American Federation of Labor v. National Labor Relations Board , 308 U.S. 401, 60 S. Ct. 300, 84 L. Ed. 347 (1940); Boire v. Greyhound Corp. , 376 U.S. 473, 84 S. Ct. 894, 11 L. Ed. 2 d 849 (1964); McCullouch v. Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Co. , 131 U.S. App. D.C. 190, 403 F.2d 916 (1968); Modern Plastics Corp. v. McCullouch , 400 F.2d 14 (6 Cir. 1968). But cf. Leedom v. Kyne , 358 U.S. 184, 188, 79 ...


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