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Boards of Education Can No Longer Pay Teachers for Union-Only Work
By Susan S. Hodges on October 4, 2019

Last month, the Appellate Division determined that provisions in a teachers' union contract that allowed two teachers to collect their full pay and benefits for days when they did not teach but instead performed union duties were unenforceable.

In Rozenblit v. Jersey City Board of Education, the Court ruled that it was against New Jersey law and public policy for the district to pay full salaries and benefits to union representatives who worked full-time on union business and affairs.  The contract language requiring the Board to pay the salaries and benefits to two teachers who devoted all of their work-time to union business and affairs was unenforceable, despite it being fully negotiated with the union. 

While N.J.S.A. 18A:30-7 enables the board to provide additional paid time off for absences not constituting sick leave, the two employees in Rozenblit were not absent from work—they went to work at the school, but never performed any work for the school. The court also reviewed other leave provided by the contract (leave upon death of a family member and sabbatical leave to study or rest and recuperate), and found that such leave had a reciprocal benefit upon the employee and the district, whereas the language providing union representatives with full salary and benefits to solely perform union work and activities did not have a reciprocal benefit. Therefore, the court found it was a violation of law and public policy for the district to pay the union representatives their full salaries and benefits when they worked full-time on union business and affairs rather than work for the District. Boards of Education should review their union contracts for union business provisions.

The content of this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion. You should consult a lawyer concerning your specific situation and any specific legal question you may have.

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