On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-2732-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Wefing, Payne and Hayden.
Defendant, East Rutherford PBA Local 275 (PBA), appeals from the order of a Law Division judge vacating an arbitrator's decision requiring, until the expiration of the existing collective bargaining agreement, that plaintiff, Borough of East Rutherford (Borough), reimburse PBA members five dollars of the ten-dollar co-pay for physician visits mandated by the State Health Benefits Plan (SHBP), effective January 1, 2007. See N.J.S.A. 52:14-17.29(C). We reverse.
The PBA entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Borough effective from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2009. A number of the provisions of the CBA are relevant to the present dispute. Article 5.01 provided:
The provisions of this Agreement shall be subject to [and] subordinate to and shall not annul or modify existing applicable provisions of State or Federal Laws.
Article 7, governing preservation of rights, contained a provisions that stated:
7.02 Nothing contained herein shall be construed to deny or restrict the Borough of its rights, responsibilities and authority, under R.S. 11.40 and 40A, or any other national, state, country [sic], or other applicable laws.
7.03 The Borough agrees that all benefits, terms and conditions of employment relating to the status of Employees, which benefits, terms and conditions of employment are not specifically set forth in this Agreement, shall be maintained at not less than the highest standards in effect at the time of the commencement of the collective bargaining negotiations between the parties leading to the execution of this Agreement.
7.04 Unless a contrary intent is expressed in this Agreement, all existing benefits, rights, duties, obligations and conditions of employment applicable to any Employee pursuant to any rules, regulations, instruction, directive, memorandum, practice, statute or otherwise shall not be limited, restricted, impaired, removed or abolished.
Article 29, which pertained to medical and insurance coverage, provided, in relevant part:
29.01 The Borough will continue to provide and pay for existing Medical and prescription plans and coverage for Employees covered by this Agreement and their families. Any change in carrier or source ...