Before Judges Long, Stern and Kimmelman.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Long, P.j.a.d.
On appeal from a final decision of the Public Employment Relations Commission.
On January 23, l995, New Jersey Transit PBA, Local 304 filed an unfair practice charge against New Jersey Transit alleging that it violated its duty to negotiate over terms and conditions of employment under the Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A. 34:l3A-1 et seq. The charge specified that the employer did not negotiate before it imposed as a term and condition of employment the requirement that police recruits agree to repay training costs if they leave employment within two years. A complaint issued pursuant to N.J.A.C. l9:l4-2.1. The parties stipulated the facts, waived a hearing, and submitted briefs. Both parties sought summary judgment.
The following is the stipulation:
l. New Jersey Transit PBA Local 304 is the recognized majority representative for all non- supervisory Transit Police employed by New Jersey Transit.
2. New Jersey Transit is a public employer within the meaning of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act and is subject to the Act's provisions.
3. The New Jersey Transit PBA Local 304 (hereinafter the "PBA") and New Jersey Transit (hereinafter "Transit") are the parties to a collective negotiations agreement that expired as of June 30, l992.
4. The parties have recently concluded negotiations with regard to a successor collective bargaining agreement covering the period between July l, l992 and June 30, l996. A copy of that agreement is annexed as Exhibit "A".
5. Prior to August ll, l994, police trainees employed by New Jersey Transit who were required to attend the Middlesex County Police Training Academy for training as a Police Officer had all of their Academy training costs paid by Transit during the pertinent time period. There were no restrictions placed on the ability of these trainees to leave the employ of Transit at any time and be free from any obligation to indemnify Transit for the Academy training costs at issue. After August ll, l994, Transit has paid for the training costs also, subject to the disputed repayment obligation set forth in Exhibit "B," referred to in Paragraph 7, infra.[ *fn1 ]
6. On or about August ll, l994 all new applicants for employment as police officers were required to sign an agreement (Exhibit "B") which obligated those applicants to agree to repay Transit for portions of the Academy training costs at issue if those Officers left the employ of Transit at any time within two years of the completion of their Academy training. The requirement to sign such agreement pertained to all applicants who were offered employment; signing the agreement was a condition of initial employment.
7. The affected Officers were required to sign the attached agreement (Exhibit "B") as a condition for their continued employment by Transit, for those accepting initial employment [as] set forth in Paragraph 6, supra.
8. At no time did any agent or representative of Transit attempt to negotiate the issue dealing with training costs reimbursements with the PBA as the majority representative of the affected Officers.
9. According to Transit, the cost to Transit to train a probationary police officer at the police academy for 22 weeks includes approximately $l,200.00 for the academy and equipment, uniforms, etc., and approximately ...