Wednesday, February 19, 2014


The credible threat of a strike can move labor negotiations along as the preliminary settlement for Portland, Oregon teachers demonstrates.  Labor needs to have the strike weapon to be on equal footing with management. 

As for public sector workers in NYS, the UN's International Labor Organization said in 2011 that the state’s Taylor Law, which bans strikes by public employees in New York, violates international law and a treaty ratified by the US Senate. 

Why don't the unions here push this issue?


Jeff Kaufman said...

A credible strike wouldnt have to have given up seniority or a large part of our tenure. All we need is a tsunami shift in public opinion and early retirement for Mulgrew and his hacks.

From Under The Bus said...

Perhaps MORE could start a campaign against this violation!

Anonymous said...

We need to remember that the Taylor Law goes hand in hand with The Triborough Amendment . We can't strike without facing serious penalties and that sucks. However, our contracts stay in place until a new one is negotiated. It is kind of a catch 22 situation.

James Eterno said...

Just repeal the two days pay for each day on strike penalties. No reason why a union and management cannot agree to keep talking after a contract expires. Whatever happened to No contract=no work?

Anonymous said...

James, if I not mistaken, "management" is NY State, not the DOE. In order to get rid of the 2 days penalty NY State law would have to change. I do not think that Cuomo would ever allow that type change to go into effect. Taylor law gives an edge to the State/Cities. Tribourough gives an edge to the unions. They really are quite interlocked unfortunately. (Please inform me if you see it in a different light)

James Eterno said...

You are right that the Taylor Law would have to change at the state level. The status quo doctrine (Triborough)does help us in that it keeps the old contract in effect until we have a new one.

Our cause has been aided because we have had fairly low inflation the last few years while working under an expired contract. However, some teacher locals have had to give up their step increases because of Cuomo's tax cap. There is a bill that was introduced in Albany to take away step increases when we don't have a contract. NYSUT needs to be a real union. Just talking to the politicians won't be enough. We need more than a seat at the table.

The question you basically ask is interesting: Should we give up status quo for ending the penalties for striking?

What incentive did Bloomberg have to negotiate with us these last five years we have been without a contract? None because we couldn't do anything. We had no leverage at all other than the evaluation system, which had to be part of the new contract, and we basically gave that leverage over to John King when we let him decide on the system. Bloomberg in many ways obliterated our contract under the status quo doctrine and the most we have done is filed lawsuits, PERB complaints and grievances. While we wait for years sometimes for decisions, working conditions have totally deteriorated. (See the blog post on what teachers needed for a principal walk through for an example or massive school closings and the ATR madness.) He waited us out fairly successfully.

I'd like to think we can change the culture back our way but I'm not sure. Would having the right to strike put us in a better position? I think so if we could mobilize properly and do it right.