ARBITRATION BILL PASSES SENATE, HEADS TO CHRISTIE'S DESK

120px-Seal_of_New_Jersey_svgThe Senate unanimously passed bipartisan compromise legislation to overhaul the method by which towns and public safety unions have their cases decided by arbitration, reforming the process to make it fair.

Under the bipartisan legislation (S-5/A-3393) – the result of a compromise struck last week among Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and Governor Chris Christie – arbitrator awards for police and fire personnel salaries and longevity payments would be capped at an average of 2 percent annually over the life of a contract. Arbitrators also would be prohibited from writing new economic rewards into a new contract that did not exist in the prior agreement.

The measure also would create a new randomized system for assigning arbitrators, who also would be required to meet new and more stringent quality standards. Arbitrator compensation similarly would be capped at $1,000 per day and $7,500 per case, whichever is lower.

Once a dispute enters arbitration, arbitrators would be required to rule within 45 days. Appeals of an arbitrator decision would be required to be adjudicated within 30 days. Arbitrators who miss a deadline would be subject to financial penalties.

The bill passed 40-0, and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.

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