N.J. strikes deal on reforming arbitration process

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and legislative leaders have reached an agreement on arbitration reform.

The arbitration process comes into play when police and firefighter unions cannot reach contract agreements with cities and towns. Christie said the agreement will help control costs by putting a 2-percent cap on the salary increases arbitrators can award.

“This is going to hem in an arbitrator’s ability to be able to go in and create new areas of compensation that have not existed before and use that as a way to boost up the overall compensation being paid to the folks seeking that,” said Christie Thursday.

Pension and health-care benefits are excluded from the cap.

The agreement requires arbitration cases to be settled in 45 days. It limits arbitrators’ pay to $7,500 per case.

Christie and legislative leaders are still negotiating civil service reforms and other “tool kit” measures to help local governments stay within a 2-percent cap on property tax increases that takes effect Jan. 1

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