On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division, Hudson County.
Pressler, Shebell and Skillman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Pressler, P.J.A.D.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
This controversy arises out of a collective negotiation agreement between defendant Jersey City and plaintiff Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association (POBA), which represents all Jersey City police officers under the grade of sergeant. Jersey City appeals from an order of the Chancery Division denying it relief from an earlier consent judgment by which it had agreed to the confirmation of an arbitrator's award in favor of POBA. It argues that its consent to entry of the confirmation order had been predicated on its understanding that the scope of the arbitration had been substantially more limited than POBA later asserted it to be and consequently that implementation of the consent judgment consistent with POBA's interpretation of its literal terms was contrary to the import of the arbitration award itself. We find merit in Jersey City's assertions and accordingly we reverse and remand.
The collective negotiation agreement in question covered calendar years 1989, 1990, and 1991. Its compensation schedule
contained eight steps. The first seven steps were based on the number of years of employment, from one to seven. The eighth step was entitled "Detective" and provided for a salary of approximately $1,700 more than that of a seventh year officer. According to the record, there were disparities and inconsistencies in the City's designation and compensation of detectives over the years. In an effort to eliminate these problems and to improve the efficiency of the department, the City issued a memorandum during the term of the agreement eliminating the title of detective altogether and eliminating as well the extra compensation that had attended that designation. At the same time the City created the title of investigator, which was then accorded to a large number of officers. Unlike the previous detective title which was granted only after an officer had served seven years and had therefore reached the maximum non-detective salary, the investigator title, intended to reflect the actual duties assigned to the officer, was accorded to a number of officers who had been employed less than seven years, and in some cases to new appointees to the force.
Predictably, POBA complained about the loss of extra compensation for detectives, and individual grievances were arbitrated. The arbitrator concluded that those former detectives who had not been given the extra compensation in the past were deemed to have waived it. In all other respects, however, he sustained the grievances, concluding that there was a functional equivalence between the former detective title and, with stated assignment exceptions, the current investigator title. He therefore concluded that the former detectives who were designated investigators were entitled to the stipulated detective's compensation. His award, however, was cast in general terms, namely, that all officers assigned as investigators in all but the excepted cases were entitled to be compensated at the detective rate set forth in the agreement.
POBA then commenced this action by order to show cause for confirmation of the arbitration award. Prior to the return
date the parties reached an accord and consented to the entry of a judgment providing that
Ordered AND ADJUDGED that the Opinions and Awards of Arbitrator Jeffrey Tener dated January 27, 1990, be and the same are hereby confirmed in their entirety, with the clarification that only the police officers who grieved their reassignments and were included in the "Conners Grievance," are entitled to submit their grievances to arbitration. All other police officers shall be subject to the procedures contained in the ...