On appeal from a Final Decision of the Public Employment Relations Commission.
Antell, Baime and Thomas. The opinion of the court was delivered by Thomas, J.s.c., temporarily assigned.
The Prosecutor of Middlesex County appeals from a decision of the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) holding that appellant was in violation of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act and ordering remedial action. After a careful review of the record, we agree PERC correctly applied the Act and affirm.
On June 1, 1989, PBA Local 214, Middlesex County Prosecutor's Detectives and Investigators filed an unfair practice charge against appellant with PERC. Respondent alleged that appellant violated the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1, et seq., specifically subsections 5.4(a)(1) and (a)(5), when it unilaterally stopped granting newlyhired employees credit for longevity and vacation and sick leave benefits based on prior governmental employment.
Since the early 1970s, appellant's employees have been entitled to credit for prior governmental service. The credit was used to calculate vacation and sick leave allowances and longevity payments. Until 1980, the credit was mandated by statute. However, we declared the statute unconstitutional in Kenney v. East Brunswick Tp., 172 N.J. Super. 45, 410 A.2d 713 (App.Div.1980).*fn1 The County then passed a new resolution on September 18, 1980 again granting credit for prior governmental service to appellant's employees which was incorporated into the 1980-1981 agreement between appellant and respondent.
On July 24, 1987, respondent filed a grievance alleging that appellant had violated the collective agreement by failing to provide the prior service credit to certain employees. This
grievance was based on claims that some employees were hired without being given prior service credit and some were given less credit than they thought they deserved. An arbitration hearing was held on January 4, 1988, and on January 25, 1988, the arbitrator issued an award. The award included the finding that appellant must grant the credit, pursuant to the 1980 resolution and bargaining agreement. This award was appealed and affirmed. On February 27, 1989, the parties entered into a written agreement to implement the arbitrator's award which included calculations for specific employees of retroactive vacation and sick days as well as longevity payments.
The 1980 provision was carried over into the 1988-1989 collective agreement as article 20:
It is mutually understood and agreed that all benefits currently enjoyed by employees shall remain in effect and become a part of this Agreement, including any and all verbal or written agreements pertaining to working conditions made with the Middlesex County Prosecutor.
It is agreed that all general fringe benefits given to all other County employees by General County Policy, will also be granted to the ...