(TRENTON) — Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) issued a multimedia package Monday on his compromise legislation to address interest arbitration reforms for police and fire fighters in New Jersey, following its unanimous passage by the General Assembly.
Prieto’s compromise legislation would make various changes to the law governing arbitration awards in disputes between public employers and their police and fire departments, as follows:
- The two percent cap on base salary increases in arbitration awards would be extended from its current expiration date of April 1, 2014 to December 31, 2017 and be retroactive to April 2, 2014;
- The arbitration awards would be compounded for each year of the contract;
- The time frame during which an arbitrator must render a decision would be increased from 45 days to 90 calendar days;
- The allowable time frame during which a notice of appeal of an arbitrator’s decision must be filed would be increased from seven days to 14 calendar days;
- The time frame allowed for the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) to render a decision in an appeal would be increased from 30 days to 60 calendar days;
- The maximum amount that an arbitrator could be compensated for their services would increase from “shall not exceed $7,500” to “shall not exceed $10,000”;
- An arbitrator would be required to conduct an initial meeting with the parties as a mediation in an effort to effect a voluntary resolution of the impasse. If this does not produce an agreement, then the arbitration would continue;
- The Police and Fire Public Interest Arbitration Impact Task Force would be continued with a final report due on or before December 31, 2017; and
- The “one and done” provision of the prior law is eliminated.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Speaker Prieto discussing his legislation and audio and a transcript of same.
The video can be accessed directly via our website — www.assemblydems.com — or by clicking here.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments from the Speaker is appended below:
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson):
“Arbitration is important because police and fire are not allowed to strike. So they have to go to an arbitrator and this arbitrator will decide what their contract can gain more than the previous one.
“And at the end of the day, I’ve always said that police and fire do a job that’s something different than what we all do. They actually run into danger as most of the people are running away from it, so I wanted to make sure that we actually were being mindful of them. And I thought the way that this CV [conditional veto] had come in, that we had not had enough opportunity to be able to get something back for them.
“And in this particular bill, it actually goes with some of the recommendations from that task force. It actually changes some trigger dates when you can appeal and certain things that you need to do. So I think there was a consensus on some of these things. We got for them compounding that was able to be able to grow by another two percent of whatever that contract was during that year as municipalities are offered compounding in their own budget wise for their tax levy. So I think it was a fair compromise for everybody.
“It definitely protects our taxpayers because it makes sure that our taxes are kept on check; that they do not grow at an exorbitant rate; and we make sure as we have the highest taxes in the nation, we’re trying to fix how not only we can curtail their rate of growth but how we can lower them.
“So I think it was a good compromise that it actually shows that somebody cares that we know what they do for a living and it’s important for us and for the quality of life for all our residents that we make sure police and fire and our first responders, we’re taking care of them.”