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D.R. No. 80-35

Synopsis:

The Director of Representation, in agreement with the Hearing Officer, determines that the secretary to the Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Evaluation is a confidential employee under the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act and directs that the secretry be removed from a negotiations unit comprised of the Board's secretarial staff. The record demonstrates that, as part of her duties, the secretary to the Assistant Superintendent files confidential negotiations proposals prepared for the Board. The Director concludes that the secretary's functional responsibilities or knowledge in connection with the issues involved in the collective negotiations process makes her membership in any appropriate negotiating unit incompatible with her official duties.

PERC Citation:

D.R. No. 80-35, 6 NJPER 276 (11131 1980)

Appellate History:



Additional:



Miscellaneous:



NJPER Index:

16.22 33.43

Issues:


DecisionsWordPerfectPDF
NJ PERC:.DR 80-035.wpdDR 80-035.pdf - DR 80-035.pdf

Appellate Division:

Supreme Court:



D.R. NO. 80-35 1.
D.R. NO. 80-35
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS COMMISSION
BEFORE THE DIRECTOR OF REPRESENTATION

In the Matter of

TOWNSHIP OF PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS
BOARD OF EDUCATION,

Public Employer-Petitioner,

-and- Docket No. CU-80-1

EDUCATIONAL SECRETARIES ASSOCIATION
OF PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS, NJEA,

Employee Organization.

Appearances:

For the Public Employer-Petitioner
Dillon, Ditar & Luther, attorneys
(Henry N. Luther, III of counsel and
Myles C. Morrison, III on the brief)

For the Employee Organization
John W. Davis, UniServ Field Representative
DECISION

On July 2, 1979, a Clarification of Unit Petition was filed with the Public Employment Relations Commission (the A Commission @ ) by the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education (the A Board @ ) seeking the removal of the secretary to the Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Evaluation from a collective negotiations unit comprised of secretarial employees represented by the Educational Secretaries Association of Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJEA (the A Association @ ). The Board asserts that the above secretary, Ms. Diana Yuhasz, is a confidential employee within the meaning of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1 et seq. (the A Act @ ), specifically, ' 3(g).
Pursuant to a Notice of Hearing, a hearing was held before Commission Hearing Officer Bruce D. Leder on December 14, 1979, at which all parties were given the opportunity to examine and cross-examine witnesses, to present evidence and to argue orally. Both parties filed post-hearing briefs by February 21, 1980. The Hearing Officer issued his Report and Recommendations on April 8, 1980, a copy of which is attached hereto and made a part hereof. The Association filed exceptions to the Hearing Officer = s Report on April 23, 1980. The Board has not filed exceptions to the Report, nor has it filed a reply to the Association = s exceptions.
The undersigned has considered the entire record herein including the Hearing Officer = s report and Recommendations, the transcript, the exhibits and the Association = s exceptions, and on the basis thereof finds and determines as follows:
1. The Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education is a public employer within the meaning of the Act, is the employer of the employees who are the subject of the Petition, and is subject to the provisions of the Act.
2. The Educational Secretaries Association of Parsippany- Troy Hills is an employee representative within the meaning of the Act, and is subject to its provisions.
3. The Board has filed a Petition for Clarification of Unit seeking a determination that the secretary to the Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Evaluation is a confidential employee under the Act. The Association disputes this contention. Accordingly, there is a question concerning the composition of a collective negotiations unit and the matter is properly before the undersigned for determination.
The Hearing Officer recommended that the secretary be deemed a confidential employee and removed from the Association = s collective negotiations unit. The Hearing Officer based his recommendation upon factual findings which, in part, indicated that the Assistant Superintendent to whom the secretary was assigned, was intimately involved in the collective negotiations processes. The Hearing Officer reasoned that Ms. Yuhasz, through her filing responsibilities, had access to negotiations proposals and personnel files which included information related to grievances.
The Association excepts to the Hearing Officer = s finding that the Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Evaluation is intimately involved in the collective negotiations process. The Association claims that the evidence does not demonstrate that the Assistant Superintendent was involved in the discussion of negotiations proposals as part of a five member team of administrators and argues that the Assistant Superintendent = s secretary = s access to personnel folders does not establish this individual as a confidential employee.
The undersigned = s review of the record herein confirms the findings of the Hearing Officer, and his recommendation that the secretary is a confidential employee is adopted.
The record reveals that the Board = s Director of Employee Relations utilizes a five member administrative team to prepare and review negotiations proposals. The Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Evaluation participates on this team. The Director of Employee Relations testified that he has forwarded written negotiations proposals to the Assistant Superintendent in confidential envelopes. The Assistant Superintendent, after digesting these materials, has required his secretary to file these materials, which have been opened, in his negotiations files.
The undersigned is satisfied that this activity is sufficient to establish the involvement of the Assistant Superintendent = s secretary in a functional responsibility or to establish knowledge in connection with the issues involved in the collective negotiations process.
N.J.S.A. 34:13A-3(g) provides:
A Confidential employees @ of a public employer means employees whose functional responsibilities or knowledge in connection with issues involved in the collective negotiations process would make their membership in any appropriate negotiating unit incompatible with their official duties.

The status of secretarial employees who work for management level employees involved in the labor relations process is an issue which the Commission has addressed even before the implementation of the statutory definition in ' 3(g). In re Bd. of Ed. of the Tp. of West Milford, P.E.R.C. No. 56 (1971). The Commission stated therein:
These three secretaries work for and with those at a management level who share with the Board both responsibility for personnel and labor relations policies and by virtue of that relationship these three secretaries have, in the course of their normal duties, access to and knowledge of such policy information.

The Association herein argues:

All secretaries file. All secretaries have access to personnel folders. Mere access is not the criteria. The standard applied must meet the direct test of relationship. That relationship must link directly. The accessibility of information and its direct bearing on labor relations and negotiations. [sic] This has not in any fashion been established.

The Association has also cited the Commission statement in West

Milford, supra:

It may be that the lowest clerk would, as part of that job, record or assemble data which the Board may consider confidential for a variety of reasons and which may later become a factor in a policy decision, but there is no reason why the performance of that collection function should disqualify one from the possibility of representation. Mere knowledge of this raw information acquired in this process would not ordinarily tend to compromise management = s right to confidentiality in matters of policy affecting negotiations or contract administration. (P.E.R.C. No. 56 at Page 3.)

The instant matter, however, does not involve an employee whose functional responsibility is limited to the assembly of raw data which may be later used by those responsible for formulating negotiations proposals, nor does this matter deal with the lowest level clerk. Moreover, the record herein establishes that the secretary to the Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Evaluation has access to and a reasonably certain potential for knowledge of negotiations proposals and personnel files which form the basis for management policy affecting negotiations or contract administration.
The portion of the West Milford decision cited by the Association related to the claim by the Board therein that each and every one of the employees in the 19 office personnel positions and 16 building aide positions in the school district were confidential employees. The secretary to the Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Evaluation herein is employed in a manner which more closely resembles the employment of those individuals who were found to be confidential in the West Milford decision.1/
Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, the undersigned determines that the secretary to the Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Evaluation is an individual whose issues involved in the collective negotiations process makes her membership in any appropriate negotiations unit incompatible with her official duties. Therefore, the undersigned finds the above employee a confidential employee within the intendment of the Act and directs that the secretary be removed from the secretarial unit immediately.
BY ORDER OF THE DIRECTOR
OF REPRESENTATION

Carl Kurtzman, Director

DATED: May 12, 1980
Trenton, New Jersey
1/ Ms. Yuhasz is employed at a working location which houses a number of the highest ranking personnel of the Board. Although Ms. Yuhasz is specifically assigned to the Assistant Superintendent, she has also, in the course of her responsibilities, occasionally worked for these other administrators, whose work is normally performed by confidential secretaries.
***** End of DR 80-35 *****