On appeal from the Public Employment Relations Commission, Docket Nos. SN-2011-011 and SN-2011-025.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lihotz, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 26, 2011
Before Judges Cuff, Lihotzand St. John.
The opinion of the court was delivered by LIHOTZ, J.A.D.
In these two matters, calendared back-to-back and consolidated for purposes of this opinion because they present identical issues for review, appellant the Township of Franklin (the Township) appeals from two separate Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) decisions denying its scope of negotiation petition, seeking a determination that proposed work schedule modifications were non-negotiable. The Township maintained its managerial authority to implement new schedules was authorized by a provision contained in the collective negotiations agreements (CNA)*fn1 with respondents, the Franklin Township PBA Local #154 (PBA) and the Franklin Township PBA Local #154 Supervisory Officers Association (SOA), the collective bargaining organizations for certain police officers employed by the Township.*fn2 PERC rejected the Township's position and ordered the issues must be arbitrated. Following our review of the arguments advanced, in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm both PERC orders.
The Township, a public employer as defined by N.J.S.A. 34:13A-3,*fn3 of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act (Act), N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1 to -30, entered into independent CNAs with the PBA and SOA, governing the terms of employment of all member police officers employed by the Township. The CNAs at issue were effective from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2009, and contained clauses addressing management's right to change work schedules. Pending a successor agreement, the terms of the 2008-2009 CNAs remain in full force and effect.
The provisions found in Article 6C of the PBA's CNA stated, in pertinent part:
It is understood that at the present time and at the time of this agreement, most members of the PBA are working a four (4) day on, four (4) day off shift. It is understood that the rate of overtime compensation becomes effective at an hourly threshold lower than that called for in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The 4 & 4 shift is for example purposes only and it is understood that management reserves the right to change shifts as needed.
But for the omission of the first four words and the reference to the bargaining unit, the terms of Article 7C of the CNA between the Township and the SOA was identical. Similar clauses had been embodied within the terms of the expired 2004-2007 PBA and SOA CNAs.
In an effort to streamline operations while maintaining service levels, the Township retained Matrix Consulting Group (Matrix) to conduct an operational audit of its departments. Matrix issued a report (Matrix Report) presenting a comprehensive review of all township operations, management, and staffing.
The Matrix Report examined the current police staffing and identified efficiency opportunities related to the organization, staffing, and management of the police department. The Matrix Report concluded the current "4&4 shift," wherein patrol officers worked four days in a row followed by four days off, was the least efficient when compared to a "4&2 shift" (four days on and two days off), or a "5&2 shift" (five days on and ...