Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Elections Chief Wins Legal Step vs. County

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Elections Chief Wins Legal Step vs. County

Article excerpt

A Passaic County elections official has won Round 1 in her legal fight with the freeholders, who are trying to void a labor contract she negotiated with her staff.

A Superior Court judge last week refused to issue the injunction the freeholders sought to block the contract negotiated by elections superintendent Sherine El-Abd and Local 1032 of the Communication Workers of America. The freeholders argued that the three-year contract, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, contains language that would lead to double-digit pay hikes, more lucrative overtime and merit bonuses.

Judge Margaret McVeigh did not decide the case but said setting aside the contract while Passaic County's complaint against El-Abd winds its way through court would cause "irreparable harm" and be a "tremendous personal inconvenience" to election workers who have been waiting for their pay raises. McVeigh set a hearing for Thursday to continue oral arguments in the case.

Angelo J. Genova, attorney for Passaic County, filed a motion this week asking McVeigh to stay her ruling, arguing that taxpayers would be "irreparably harmed" if they had to pay the increased salaries and bonuses in the new contract while the court case is being decided. El-Abd's attorney, Mark J. Semeraro, immediately decried the move, saying Genova was "seeking another bite at the apple" -- which is lawyer's slang for when an attorney who lost his argument in court tries to get the same judge to revisit the ruling.

"The other side is making the same argument. There is nothing new," Semeraro said Friday. Genova did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In its complaint filed in March, Passaic County argued that the contract negotiated by El-Abd is a "budget buster" that violates the intent of the 2 percent budget cap the state Legislature imposed on all counties and municipalities. …

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