Labor leaders have been giddy when a bunch of state Senate staff final month introduced their intent to unionize. But when the group achieves its goal — to topic senators to the sweeping union guidelines Albany imposes on native governments and faculties — the end result could also be greater than what labor bargained for.
About 80 of the Senate’s roughly 1,000 employees have shaped the New York State Legislative Employees United. In a letter to Senate Majority Chief Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the group demanded the identical bargaining privileges New York’s Taylor Legislation grants state and municipal staff and academics.
In different phrases, the staffers need state regulators to drive senators to barter with them and bind lawmakers to the contract phrases.
The legality of that scheme is, at finest, extremely questionable. A union would run into constitutional points if it requested a decide to implement a labor contract on the Legislature, a separate and unbiased department of presidency. But when the nascent union succeeds in forcing senators to the desk, lawmakers will likely be in for a impolite awakening.
That’s as a result of the Taylor Legislation does excess of make bosses negotiate wages and advantages. The statute has been interpreted to make near every thing in a office that isn’t nailed to the ground negotiable. And it primarily bars employers from managing their very own workforce with out the union’s permission.
After the invoice’s 55 years on the books, Taylor Legislation contracts management, amongst different issues, the size of the college day, forestall state and native managers from firing staff who commit crimes at work and prioritize an worker’s seniority over how nicely she or he does the job.
Even the tiniest cheap modifications to make authorities extra environment friendly — like eliminating a vacant place, modernizing a efficiency analysis kind or asking staff to punch a time clock — can require particular permission from the union.
The Taylor Legislation in lots of respects is the Empire State’s unseen coverage villain, contributing to many of the metropolis’s and state’s prime challenges however at all times escaping scrutiny.
The United Federation of Lecturers’ stranglehold over metropolis faculties, the rank inefficiency of the New York Metropolis subway and Lengthy Island’s crushing property taxes all hint their roots to the Taylor Legislation. (The maintenance nightmares New York Metropolis Housing Authority residents endure and metropolis seashores’ lifeguard-scheduling drama are linked to an analogous native collective-bargaining ordinance overlaying most metropolis staff.)
However state lawmakers ostensibly involved about pupil outcomes, the plight of straphangers or Nassau County’s price of dwelling not often utter the phrases on the coronary heart of the difficulty — “the Taylor Legislation!” — lest they anger union leaders earlier than the subsequent election.
And the Taylor Legislation makes these elections much less significant as a result of union contracts typically decide how authorities operates greater than do the selections made by the individuals voters selected.
Lawmakers can afford to disregard the legislation’s unfavourable penalties partly as a result of most don’t dwell straight with them. Nothing, although, would make the pliability the Senate enjoys evaporate quicker than making that physique topic to the Taylor Legislation. The apply in lots of senators’ places of work of getting aides put on a number of hats, work odd schedules and journey to and from Albany with their bosses would seemingly cease being a given.
The expertise may simply be disruptive sufficient to interrupt by Albany’s generations of cognitive dissonance. Dropping near-complete discretion over their private taxpayer-funded fiefdoms may lastly immediate senators to acknowledge how a lot management they’ve taken away from different elected officers.
Everybody — from progressives pissed off about police accountability and public transit to limited-government conservatives keen to chop taxes — stands to win if lawmakers get an up-close and private encounter with the legislation and determine to embrace overdue reforms, like limiting the scope and period of union contracts.
Making use of the Taylor Legislation, with all its extremes and excesses, to the Senate can be a wonderful factor for Senate staffers — one their labor brothers and sisters may quickly come to remorse.
Ken Girardin is a fellow on the Empire Middle for Public Coverage in Albany.