The within action is an outgrowth of an impasse between the parties regarding a successor contract to their 1984-86 collective bargaining agreement. Because of that impasse, both parties initiated compulsory interest arbitration which ultimately led to an opinion and award dated August 31, 1988. N.J.S.A. 34:13A-16. Although both partes agree that the award should be confirmed by the court, plaintiff seeks a modification of the award with respect to "minimum manning." Essentially, the City seeks a reading of the award to the effect that minimum
manning disputes are not arbitrable. It also seeks to permanently enjoin the Firefighters from submitting minimum manning disputes to binding arbitration.
Prior to the issuance of the arbitration award, the Firefighters filed a grievance under Article 24 (Health and Safety) of the prior collective bargaining agreement disputing plaintiff's determinations regarding minimum manning. In response to defendant's effort to arbitrate grievance, the City filed a petitionfor a scope of negotiations determination with the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC). That petition is still pending. Approximately months following the filing of that petition, the City initiated this lawsuit.
Both sides agree that the issues before the court can be disposed of summarily. The matter was submitted by way of an order to show cause with each side submitting briefs, affidavits and oral argument. The following represents this court's factual recitation and conclusions of law.
The plaintiff, City of Atlantic City (City), is a public employer within the meaning of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1 et seq.
The defendant Atlantic City Firefighters, Local 198, IAFF (Firefighters) is an employee representative within the meaning of the above statute and is the exclusive negotiating representative for all uniformed fire department personnel in the City of Atlantic City. When the collective negotiations agreement which was in effect between January 1, 1984) and December 31, 19863, expired and the parties were unable to successfully negotiate a new agreement, both sides filed a petition for compulsory interest arbitration pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:13A-16. Both sides also agreed to utilize services of Robert E. Light, Esq. as an interest arbitrator following which hearings were conducted and submissions were made by both sides. Arbitrator Light issued his award and opinion on August 31, 1988, (Docket No. IA 81-41) the full
text of which is attached to plaintiff's complaint as Exhibit 2. The content of that opinion is incorporated here by reference.
For present purposes the relevant portions of the opinion and award deal with "hiring practices" and the ...