Appellate court: Jersey City employees who worked 2018 state of emergency owed double pay

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The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division has reversed a lower court’s decision, indicating that Jersey City municipal workers union employees worked a 2018 state of emergency are owed double pay.

Photo via jerseycitynj.org.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“In this case, the arbitrator did not explain the reason he found the state of emergency language in the CNA to be ambiguous, requiring testimony outside the four corners of the contract,” Appellate Court Judges Carmen Alvarez and Richard Geiger wrote today.

“The trial court did not offer an explanation either. We do not see an ambiguity in the language, and consider the meaning to be self-evident and straightforward. In those cases, arbitration decisions may be reversed.”

They continued that “the negotiated language was precise” and stated that if the governor issued a state of emergency, city employees who worked during that time would receive double pay.

On May 6th, 2018, Jersey City Local 245 filed a complaint in Hudson County Superior Court alleging they were owed back pay for working during a state of emergency between March 6th and March 13th of the same year, as HCV first reported.

Specifically, they sought double pay for all non-essential employees that worked during the winter storm since the city had already compensated essential employees.

An arbitrator denied the plaintiffs’ grievance on February 12th, 2020, which has upheld by a Hudson County Superior Court Law Division judge on July 10th, 2020.

However, the appellate court has now ruled that those decisions were improper.

“City Hall resumed normal operations on March 8. But the result to which the City objects does not justify applying a different, tailor-made set of rules, in the interest of expediency … Thus, the arbitrator’s decision was not reasonably debatable and must be vacated.”