What Is It?
The Public Employees' Fair Employment Act, commonly known as the Taylor Law, is a labor relations statute covering most public employees in New York State — whether employed by the State, or by counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, public authorities or certain special service districts. It became effective September 1, 1967 and was the first comprehensive labor relations law for public employees in the State, and among the first in the United States. It is the legal foundation used by GOER in its negotiations with New York State's public employee unions.
What Does It Do?
The Taylor Law:
- grants public employees the right to organize and to be represented by employee organizations of their own choice;
- requires public employers to negotiate and enter into agreements with public employee organizations regarding their employees' terms and conditions of employment;
- establishes impasse procedures for the resolution of collective bargaining disputes;
- defines and prohibits improper practices by public employers and public employee organizations;
- prohibits strikes by public employees; and
- establishes a state agency to administer the Law — The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
Administration of The Taylor Law
The New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) was created as an independent, neutral agency to administer the Taylor Law. The three member Board is appointed by the Governor, with the consent of the State Senate. The Board's major responsibility is to act as an umpire in disputes arising under the Taylor Law. Other responsibilities include: administration of the Taylor Law statewide; resolution of representation disputes; provision of impasse resolution services; adjudication of improper practice charges; designation of management/confidential employees; determination of employee organization responsibility for striking and ordering forfeiture of dues and agency fee check-off privileges; and, administration of grievance and interest arbitration panels.
Resolution of Contract Disputes
Generally under the Taylor Law there are four impasse resolution systems, and in each system, mediation is the required first step. Either or both parties may request mediation assistance by filing a "Declaration of Impasse" with PERB's Director of Conciliation. The mediator is appointed by the Director from PERB's full-time staff or its panel of per diem mediators. The mediator acts as liaison between the parties, and seeks to effect a settlement through persuasion and compromise.
If mediation fails to resolve the impasse, then Fact-Finding is the next step. The fact-finder may attempt to resolve the dispute through further mediation. If not, or if unsuccessful in that effort, the fact-finder then holds a hearing, takes testimony of witnesses, accepts briefs from the parties, and then makes a written, nonbinding recommendation for settlement to both parties. The fact-finder then makes the report and recommendations public within five days of transmission of the report to the parties.
For New York State Police units, the procedure is similar to what the law provides for local police, fire fighters, and certain transit employees. The Taylor Law provides that if the dispute is not resolved in mediation, PERB, on petition of either party, will generally refer the dispute to arbitration. Binding arbitration also is available to most members of the Security Services Unit, the Security Supervisors Unit and the Agency Law Enforcement Services Unit. However, for these units, arbitration is restricted to issues directly relating to compensation.
In those instances where arbitration is not permitted, if one or both parties does not accept the fact-finding report in its entirety, then for public employees (with the exception of public employees of educational institutions, police, fire fighters and certain transit employees) the next step is a legislative hearing. The Governor's Office of Employee Relations submits to the Legislature a copy of the fact-finding report plus the agency's own recommendations for resolving the dispute. The employee organization may submit its recommendations for settling the dispute as well. A public hearing is then conducted by the Legislature or a legislative committee to hear the positions of both sides. The Legislature usually directs both parties to resume negotiations but occasionally, the legislature will choose to impose employment terms. Such imposition may be for no more than a single fiscal year. A legislative determination cannot change the terms of an expired agreement unless the employee organization has waived its right to stand on those terms.
Is mediation assistance which PERB may offer, at its discretion, if an impasse continues after a fact-finding report has been issued.
For additional information see Article 14 of the NYS Civil Service Law, which is the full text of the Taylor Law.