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New Jersey Turnpike Employees'' Union v. New Jersey Turnpike Authority

Decided: April 18, 1973.


Carton, Mintz and Handler. The opinion of the court was delivered by Handler, J.s.c., Temporarily Assigned.


Plaintiff New Jersey Turnpike Employees' Union, Local 194, of the American Federation of Technical Engineers (Union) appeals from an adverse decision on the validity of an agency shop clause in a contract with defendant New Jersey Turnpike Authority (Authority). On March 5, 1970, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission certified plaintiff union as the majority representative of the employees of defendant Authority. Thereafter, the union and the Authority engaged in collective bargaining negotiations and on August 12, 1970 entered into a collective bargaining agreement.

Article VI-D of that collective bargaining agreement contains the following language:

The Authority and Union agree to file a complaint seeking a "Declaratory Judgment" before a court of competent jurisdiction to determine the legality of an "Agency Shop" provision. Should such a provision be declared legal then Agency Shop shall be effective on the first day of the month of the second month succeeding the date of the decision.

Pursuant to this provision, the union filed such an action and proposed that, if its suit were successful, the following agency shop arrangement be added to the collective bargaining agreement:

It is therefore agreed that it is a condition of employment or continued employment that commencing on the thirtieth day following the initial employment of any employee covered by this agreement, all employees shall pay to the union an amount, equal to the amount of the regular dues of the union, plus an amount equal to the regular initiation fee of the union, and that failure to make such payments

during the month when the same is due shall constitute good cause for, and require separation from employment. It is further agreed that all funds paid to the Union by or on behalf of persons not members of the union because of this agreement shall be used exclusively to defray the costs of collective negotiations, the negotiation and adjustment of grievances with the Authority and other expenses relating to the representation of such persons. Should it be determined that the funds thus paid by said non-members exceed their fair share of such expenditures, it is agreed that adjustments in said amount of initiation fee and/or dues shall be made to eliminate such excess.

On motion for summary judgment the court below declared the above provision invalid because it was contrary to the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, L. 1968, c. 303; N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1 et seq.

On this appeal the union urges that the proposed agency shop is valid and does not violate any constitutional or statutory stricture and is consistent with public policy. The Authority contends in effect that any agency shop arrangement would be contrary to the specific provisions of N.J.S.A. 34:13A-5.3 which confers the right upon individual employees to desist from union activity; that it would violate the constitutional guarantee to employees of the right to process their grievances individually or through their representatives, and that the proposal would also be at variance with statutory restrictions applicable to the hire of veterans and is otherwise illegal by compelling dues deduction; also, such a provision is not justified by considerations of equity.

An agency shop has been defined as an arrangement whereby, as a condition of continued employment, all employees not already members of the union and new employees hired thereafter must pay to the union, within a stated time after agreement or initial employment, a sum equal to the initiation fees charged to members of the union and monthly sums equal to regular membership dues required of members. Hopfl, "The Agency Shop Question," 49 Cornell L.Q. 478 (1964). Focusing upon the constitutional argument, the Authority contends that an agency shop is in direct conflict with N.J. Const. (1947), Art. I, par. 19. This provides:

Persons in private employment shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively. Persons in public employment shall have the right to organize, present to and make known to the State, or any of its political subdivisions or agencies, their ...

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