Despite fiscal woes, the V.I. Public Employee Relations Board continues to close more employment complaint cases than are filed each year, and with 80 pending complaints has its smallest backlog since taking over the task in 1995, PERB officials said at budget hearings Wednesday.
In fiscal year 2011, 73 new cases were filed with PERB. The board has closed 81 cases thus far this year and 80 cases are pending, PERB legal counsel Larry Raymond-Roy testified to the Finance Committee during budget hearings in Frederiksted. That is the lowest number since PERB inherited the cases of the former Government Employees Service Commission in1995, PERB officials said. At this time last year, PERB had a backlog of 82 cases, which was the lowest backlog since 1995 until this year.
The PERB is a party in 24 court cases, 23 of which are pending before Superior Court and one before the V.I. Supreme Court, Raymond-Roy testified.
PERB provides mediation and arbitration services between government employees and management, as well as training for mediators, employees, managers and other interested people. A dispute with a government employer goes first to the PERB for a quasi-judicial hearing, and can then be appealed to the V.I. Superior Court. It also certifies and decertifies union representation based upon union votes.
A small agency, PERB’s proposed 2012 budget is $897,000 from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees Increment Fund. That reflects an 8 percent reduction from combined appropriations for 2011 of $973,000. The 2012 budget contain $495,000 for wages and salaries and $169,000 for benefits for PERB’s 11 employees, accounting for 70 percent of the total budget. Another $225,000, or 25 percent, is for communications, rentals, education, services and inter-island travel. $20,000 is allotted for supplies and $25,000 for utilities.