On appeal from the Public Employment Relations Commission.
Before Judges Long, Stern and Kleiner.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Long, P.j.a.d.
Submitted November l8, l997
On this appeal, the Piscataway Township Education Association (Association) challenges a determination of the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) dismissing the unfair practice charge the Association filed against the Piscataway Township Board of Education (Board). In its charge, the Association alleged that the Board violated the Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A. 34:l3A-l et seq., when it did not negotiate with the Association over changes in the school calendar and over the impact of those changes on Board employees.
The law governing the question of the need to negotiate a change in the school calendar is clear. Such a change is a managerial prerogative of the school administration which cannot be bargained away. As such, it need not be negotiated. Burlington Cty College Faculty Ass'n v. Bd. of Trustees, 64 N.J. l0 (l973). The law governing the question of whether the impact of such a calendar change on the work and welfare of public employees needs to be negotiated is equally clear, although widely misunderstood. In this opinion, we will endeavor to resolve this misunderstanding which has arisen out of misplaced reliance on our unreported opinion in Edison Tp. Bd. of Ed. v. Edison Tp. Ed. Ass'n, App. Div. Dkt. No. A-5l64-77 (9/2l/79) which held that impact issues related to a managerial prerogative are non-negotiable. In fact, in Bd. of Ed. of Woodstown-Pilesgrove v. Woodstown-Pilesgrove Ed. Ass'n, 8l N.J. 582 (l980) the Supreme Court rejected this rule and declared that terms and conditions of employment arising as impact issues are indeed mandatorily negotiable unless negotiations would significantly interfere with the exercise of the related prerogative. We reiterate that holding here and conclude that in light of Woodstown-Pilesgrove our opinion in Edison Tp. should not be followed.
The facts underlying the unfair practice charge are basically undisputed. *fn1 The Board and Association were parties to a l992-95 collective agreement which contained the following School Calendar clause in Article 17:
The Superintendent shall prepare the annual school calendar consistent with N.J.S.A. l8A-25.3 and other pertinent regulations of the State Board of Education. The Superintendent shall meet and confer with the representative of the Association to discuss distribution of holidays.
The total in-school work year for teachers shall not exceed one hundred eighty-six (l86) scheduled work days which shall be reduced by emergency closing except that teachers may be required to report for work during unscheduled emergency closing resulting from student disruptions or situations which require the participation of teachers in the solution, problems or planning of procedures dealing with the emergency.
In the event of any emergency, or unusual reason notwithstanding anything contained in the Article to the contrary, the Board may require a teacher to work in order to meet the minimum requirements of the law to receive state aid.
The original l993-94 school calendar included l86 work days for teachers. There were 20 scheduled work days in January with January l7 scheduled off for the Martin Luther King holiday; l8 scheduled work days in February with February l8 and 2l scheduled off for mid-winter recess; l9 scheduled work days in March with March 28, 29, 30 and 3l scheduled off for spring recess; l9 scheduled work days in April with April 1 and 4 scheduled off for spring recess; 2l scheduled work days in May with May 30 scheduled off for Memorial Day; and, l4 scheduled work days in June with the last work day scheduled for Monday, June 20. After June 20, there were eight more weekdays remaining in June. A statement at the bottom of the calendar provided that: "If schools are closed for inclement weather, make-up sessions will begin on June 2lst and continue as needed." Three inclement weather work days had already been included in the calendar.
The winter of l993-94 was extremely harsh. The Piscataway schools were closed a total of twelve days. There were eight snow days in January l994, three snow days in February, and one snow day in March. Although three snow days had been ...