Jackson Township Public Managers and Supervisors Approved by State to Unionize

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TRENTON-Deirdre K. Hartman, Deputy Director of Representation for the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (NJ PERC) has given the green light to the formation of a new public workers union in Jackson Township that will consist of department directors and supervisors.

On December 7th, Hartman determined that a nearly two-year effort led by municipal engineer Daniel Burke and DPW Director Fred Rasiewicz is valid under New Jersey law.

The new union is called Jackson Township Municipal Supervisors (JTMS).

“JTMS has satisfied the requirements for certification based upon its authorization cards from a majority of unit employees,” Hartman said. “All regularly employed, supervisory employees of the Township of Jackson, including but not limited to the director of community development, director of public works, supervisor of public works, tax assessor, tax collector, zoning officer, construction code official, electrical subcode official, building subcode official, plumbing subcode official, fire protection subcode official, assistant recreation supervisor, recreation program administrator and principal accountant.”

Despite Burke’s effort to include the municipal court Judge Daniel Sahin in his union, who is not a township employee, the state rejected the judge and several of the new union’s other  requests.

Excluded from the union were managerial executives, confidential employees, and non-supervisory employees; craft employees, casual employees, chief financial officer, township clerk, deputy township clerk, municipal court judge, business administrator, senior computer service technician, assistant municipal treasurer, personnel officer and all other employees employed by the Township of Jackson.

The township employees 12 confidential employees who are generally politically appointed workers who cannot join the labor unions.

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The original union petitions were filed between August 27, 2014 and May 15, 2015.

Jackson Township employs 250 employees.  Most of the employees are organized into the following negotiations units: a non-supervisory white collar employee unit; a non-supervisory blue collar employee unit; a unit of public safety telecommunications operators; a rank and file police officers unit and a superior officers unit.

“On May 15, 2015, Daniel Burke, the Township’s Municipal Engineer and Director of Community Development (DCD), filed a representation petition on behalf of JTMS seeking to represent the Township’s supervisors,” the township said in a filing with NJ PERC. ” Burke submitted with its petition signed authorization cards from a majority of petitioned-for unit employees. The cards set forth clear language designating the JTMS as the exclusive majority representative of unit employees for purposes of collective negotiations over terms and conditions of employment.”

On May 18, 2015 the township requested that Burke provide it with the positions to be included in the new  manager’s union.

The township balked at several of Burke’s inclusions, including Tax Collector, Tax Assessor, Director of Community Development, Director of Public Works and Construction Code Officials, stating their inclusion into a union would be a present a conflict of interest for the township.

The township also rejected the request by Burke that Judge Daniel Sahin, an independent contractor and political appointment who serves as township municipal judge be included as he is not a township employee.

Fred Rasiewicz, the Public Works Director’s membership into the union was disputed by the township claiming his membership would be a conflict of interest since he is an executive level manager within the township.  In the end, the state disagreed and allowed Rasiewicz to be included in the union.

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Jackson Township also claimed that Burke and Rasiewicz had engaged in coercive practices to form the union.

“The Township also objects to the validity of JTMS’s authorization cards, asserting the cards were solicited by Burke and the Director of Public Works, Fred Rasiewicz, and that their status as directors over several unit employees was A inherently coercive,” the township said in a legal briefing.

The state disagreed and determined the pair did not coerce other supervisors into joining the union.

“We have not received any communications from unit employees indicating they were coerced, harassed, or misled into signing cards,” the state said.

The township still felt that with Burke and Rasiewicz being department heads and management executives would, “Engender an impermissible conflict of interest.”  A secret ballot vote was requested by the township.

In the end, NJ PERC allowed the formation of this new management union with several exceptions.

According to NJ PERC, the following employees of the township were identified by the union:

Daniel Burke (Director of Community Relations/Municipal Engineer), who earned $134,502 in 2014; Fred Rasiewicz (Director of DPW), who earned $103,142 in 2014; Toni Nagle-Rowe (Tax Assessor), $96,488; Michael Campbell (Tax Collector), $99,812;  Jeff Purpuro (Zoning Officer), $74,848 and several other lower earning supervisors within the township.

A copy of the state filing can be read in full here.

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