By Ed Delauter, Albany Government Law Review
We need a government that performs better and costs less . . . . [this] means enacting mandate relief. By next year, pension costs for schools and state and local governments will have increased one hundred percent since 2009. We need to reform the pension system and create a Tier VI. The joint Legislature and Executive Mandate relief Council we created last year will begin its work this month. I will request that Council hold public hearings. We need a robust discussion on the pros and cons of the mandates.
Amidst the backdrop of a national recession and record federal and state budget deficits across the nation—including New York—Governor Cuomo stood before the crowd gathered at Empire State Plaza on January 4, 2012 and delivered the 2012 State of the State address. The Governor emphasized the need to reduce the amount of retiree benefits received by public workers, specifically public pensions. To achieve this reduction the Governor announced his plans to include a Tier VI pension plan into his budget proposal. The proposal for a Tier VI pension system was unsurprising considering the Governor’s efforts to get the legislature to pass the Tier VI pension system the previous year as a stand-alone bill, and the skyrocketing cost of retiree benefits in conjunction with a tail spinning economy.
Continue reading “Moratorium on Progress: How New York’s “Moratorium” Statute Has Helped Halt Public Sector Teacher Pension Reform”
By Joanna Pericone, Albany Government Law Review
In 1977 a fire damaged the building of the New York State Unemployment Insurance Department. The employees were moved to a temporary building that posed several dangerous and uncomfortable working conditions. The building was essentially unheated, electrical cords blew fuses and posed a walking hazard because they were strewn across the floor. One of the two toilets in the building was backed up and there were only two exits in the building, one of which was blocked and the other was hard to open. After the employees took their work and reported to another temporary building, their supervisor ordered them to go back to the deplorable building, but the employees refused to return. The New York Court of Appeals held that the workers had engaged in an unlawful strike, in violation of New York’s Civil Service Law, and that they were subsequently liable for sanctions imposed by their employer. Although the conditions of the workplace created a “fire trap” and the strike was prompted out of concerns for safety, the Court found this to be irrelevant; under New York’s Public Employee’s Fair Employment Act, commonly known as the Taylor Law, the reason for a public employee participating in any kind of a work stoppage is not pertinent when determining whether an unlawful strike has occurred. 
Continue reading “Purpose for Taylor Law’s Strike Provision: Redefining “Strike” in New York Public Sector and Employment Law”
Written by Hunter Raines, Albany Government Law Review Member
The Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act, popularly known as the Taylor Law, has long governed the employment relationship between the State of New York and its’ employees. While the law has proved to be successful in improving the formerly turbulent relationship between the two parties, an important aspect of the law should be revised as a matter of public policy. New York State currently faces a nearly $10 billion dollar budget deficit as newly-elected Governor Andrew Cuomo prepares to present his budget proposal to law makers, which will require drastic action in order to address. One way which has been proposed to accomplish this task is through repealing, “suspending” or “freez[ing]” the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law, referred to by some as one of the “dirty little secrets in collective bargaining.”
The Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law
The Taylor Law was the product of a study commissioned by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1966 to address labor disruptions in the public sector. One of the primary purposes of the Taylor Law was to prohibit strikes by allowing public employees to unionize. The Taylor Law gave the employee a voice in determining such terms of employment by way of a union instead of one-on-one, preventing an interaction or interrelationship between the public employer and the public employee with respect to collective bargaining of terms and conditions of employment (hereinafter “TCE”). To assist in resolving disputes, the Taylor Law also created the Public Employees Relations Board (hereinafter “PERB”).
Continue reading “The Triborough Amendment: Necessary Protection for Public Employees or a Barrier to Reform?”