Plaintiff seeks a declaration as to the intent and interpretation of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act and particularly N.J.S.A. 34:13A-5.3, which among other matters provides:
Plaintiff contends that the college calendar fits the category set forth in said statute when it refers to "proposed new rules or modifications of existing rules governing working conditions," and further, that the college calendar is a "terms and conditions of employment of the employees" which requires negotiation as a part of the contractual relationship
between the faculty and its employer, defendant college.
A close reading of N.J.S.A. 34:13A-5.3 indicates that it provides on the one hand that proposed new rules or modification of existing rules governing working conditions be negotiated, and on the other hand that terms and conditions of employment be negotiated in good faith.
Defendant institution contends that the college calendar is the establishment of educational policies which should remain within its control and is not mandatorily negotiable.
The matter being heard without a jury, the court makes the following findings of facts and conclusions of law pursuant to R. 1:7-4.
The president of plaintiff association, who was also the chief negotiator, testified that the first year negotiations were entered into was for 1970-71. Among the matters negotiated were salaries, faculty load, grievances, personnel files, sick and sabbatical leaves, parking privileges, offices for faculty members and certain other minor items. The school board representatives refused to negotiate a calendar. A contract was nevertheless agreed upon for 1970-71. The following year another contract was entered into after negotiations, but again the school board refused to negotiate on the school calendar. A calendar controls the number of weeks in an academic year. The college offers evening courses and the college controls what members of the faculty shall work these courses. He stated that a calendar was important to a faculty member because a calendar could permit members of a faculty to arrange to attend other schools for the purpose of earning additional scholastic degrees, would permit teachers to plan to attend European countries which could add to their experiences in particular subjects which they taught, viz., England, the Shakespeare locale, Spain for the language and customs and so forth; that calendars sometimes are set up for a period of time which might affect the time allotted for the proper teaching of subjects to students who are eligible for admittance to a
community college; that the efforts to have the school board consider suggestions for the calendar were refused. The suggestions which were typed and offered to the school board for the years and rejected for consideration were marked in evidence. One of these calendars was passed upon by a defendant witness, a qualified educator, who felt it was a favorable type of calendar.
A representative of the New Jersey Educational Association, of which organization plaintiff is an affiliate, testified as an expert in the field of school contract negotiations. He had experience in negotiations on calendars for other faculties. His organization assisted in the passage of N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1 et seq. He testified he had examined all the calendars of the county colleges in this State. He made up a chart, admitted in evidence, on which was diagramed the length of work time that was required under the various calendars he examined. He found that Bergen County worked 9 days less than Burlington under its calendar; Brookdale College (Monmouth County) worked 31 days less; Camden worked 39 days less; Cumberland worked 17 days less; Essex worked 41 days less; Gloucester worked 15 days less; Mercer worked 12 days less; Middlesex worked 16 days less; Ocean worked 21 days less; Somerset worked 28 days less and Union worked 8 days less. No effort was made to dispute these findings by testimony which had a basis in fact.
Defendant produced a witness who was the negotiator for the board of trustees. He said he refused to negotiate the calendar with plaintiff's representative because the board of trustees felt that the calendar was a management prerogative; that a calendar was prepared for all types of members of the college community, such as ...