On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Docket No. L-1573-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff, Fisher and Fasciale.
Laurence M. Goodman argued the cause for appellant (Willig, Williams & Davidson, attorneys; Mr. Goodman, on the brief). Michael J. Herbert argued the cause for respondent (Herbert, Van Ness, Cayci & Goodell, attorneys; Mr. Herbert, of counsel and on the brief; Rachel U. Doobrajh, on the brief).
In this appeal, we review an order vacating an arbitrator's award in favor of defendant Teamsters Local Union No. 676 (Local 676). Defendant Local 676 argues that the arbitrator's determination was reasonably debatable and should have been affirmed. We agree and reverse.
The underlying dispute arises from an anomaly in the Gregorian calendar in 2009, which allowed twenty-seven biweekly pay dates rather than the normal twenty-six. In response, plaintiff Township of East Windsor (Township) divided union members' annual pay by twenty-seven rather than twenty-six and Local 676 filed a grievance arguing that its members were hourly workers rather than salaried workers.*fn1
Local 676 represents seven non-uniformed police dispatchers and clerical employees employed by the Township. On April 13, 2004, the Township and Local 676 entered an Agreement on all bargainable issues. The Agreement was effective from January 1, 2000 until December 31, 2003, and was to remain "in full force and effect" until replaced by a successor agreement. In 2009, the Agreement remained in effect.
The Agreement defines several classes of employees, including full-time, part-time, hourly, and probationary. Art. 7, Section A of the Agreement defines a full-time employee as:
A permanent employee appointed to a regular Township position, who has served the requisite probationary period, who regularly performs assigned recurring duties each week for thirty-five (35) hours (Clerical), forty (40) hours, or forty (40) hour equivalent schedule (Radio Officer) and who receives all rights and benefits.
An hourly worker is defined as:
An employee working on an hourly basis is not eligible for paid benefits or seniority rights. An employee is considered hourly who is hired for seasonal or temporary work either full-time for a fixed duration or part-time for a fixed duration and who is not eligible for benefits.
Article 32 sets out the rates of compensation for the years covered by the Agreement. As of January 1, 2003, "all bargaining unit members on Township's payroll shall receive an across the board salary increase of four percent (4.00%) over their 2002 base salary." The schedule for 2003 was as follows:
Title Minimum Maximum Min. Hourly Max. Hourly Clerk Typist $23,581 $33,040 $12.96 $18.15 Police Radio $35,778 ...