The ongoing saga between the City of Jersey City and their police super officers association (PSOA) continued today with the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) siding with the municipal government.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“After careful review of the parties’ submissions and applicable law pertinent to this motion, I find that the motion is not supported by an adequate ‘showing of extraordinary circumstances,’ nor does it present facts or argument establishing that the charge must be reopened to ‘prevent an injustice,'” PERC Director of Unfair Practices Ryan Ottavio wrote in a letter to counsel for both the city and the PSOA today.
“It should also be noted that PSOA’s motion submissions do not alter or otherwise address the legal conclusions and analysis set forth in our June 23 and June 26 decisions dismissing the interim relief application and unfair practice charge in this case. For these reasons, PSOA’s Motion to Reopen this charge is denied.”
The Jersey City PSOA has been fighting to allow the current list of eligible officers to take the lieutenant’s exam and the New Jersey Civil Service Commission ruled in their favor on Friday, as only HCV reported.
While PSOA President Pawel Wojtowicz hailed the decision “as a reaffirmation of the core principles of civil service – merit, fitness, and fairness,” they have yet to get PERC to rule in their favor and the latest decision is a setback for 64 sergeants looking to take the test.
The city, via attorney Arthur Thibault, Jr., also argued that another police lieutenant test would be a “meaningless examination, given that they already have 66 lieutenants on the 950-member force (up to 80 are allowed for a 1,200 member force).
Mayor Steven Fulop applauded the PERC ruling and said the civil service commission’s decision from Friday would be appealed.
“The PERC decision and denial of the appeal by the union speaks volumes as that is the state venue that decides differences between the union and management. Civil service is also clear on its rules that tests for promotion are management choice,” he said.
“The board’s vote last week is counter to their own rules so we are confident the city’s position will prevail. We intend to appeal the civil service decision from last week as well as file in a proper court outside of civil service for a judge to decide. Importantly, the chair of the Civil Service Board who is the senior expert on these procedures in the state voted with the city last week counter to the other voting board members.”
He continued that this further strengthens their position for a legal challenge and is confident that a court will rule in their favor, as well as that this has long-term implications for many municipalities throughout the state.
Wojtowicz said on Monday that an appeal of the civil service ruling by the city was expected, but still unfortunate.
“Our understanding is that the civil service commission decision still stands and therefore the eligible sergeants can opt into the lieutenants’ test. There is no logical reason or explanation on why the city would appeal this, but they will,” Wojtowicz said today.
“The actual grievance in PERC is still pending and we’re still going to get arbitrators to decide on this. The problem is by the time PERC hears that, the test is going to be long gone.”