Monday, August 13, 2018


I am somewhat surprised the Daily News printed an op-ed piece in support of Cynthia Nixon's position that public employees should be legally able to strike.  The author Joshua Freeman is a renowned labor history professor.

Here is the main part:

Since 1947, it has been illegal for public workers in New York State to go on strike, first under the Condon-Wadlin act, which called for strikers to be fired, and after 1967 under the Taylor Law, which penalizes them two days pay for each day off the job.

Now Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor, has called for eliminating the strike ban as a way to strengthen unions in the face of fierce legal and political assaults.

No one likes strikes, especially ones that disrupt the lives of the public, but Nixon has a point. There is no reason why public employees should not have the same rights as privately-employed workers. In 1919, Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge crushed a Boston police strike in the name of defending the sovereignty of the state.

But such arguments have long been outmoded, as private-sector style labor relations have been imported into the public realm without undermining the power of government. Several states, including Pennsylvania, allow public sector strikes without the sky falling down.

New York unionists have long complained that the Taylor Law strips them of their most powerful weapon, the right to withdraw their labor. Complicating the situation is a provision of the law that says when public employee contracts expire, their terms will remain in effect until a new contract is signed. This protects workers when public officials and union leaders fail to come to an agreement, but eliminates the pressure to do just that.

Employers often simply wait unions out, not fearing a walkout. Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed over 150 city labor contracts to expire by the time he left office. For workers, such rope-a-dope means decreased spending power as inflation eats away at their salaries. Meanwhile, without the right to strike, public employee unions turn to politics, mobilizing their resources on behalf of candidates with whom they may end up bargaining.

Strengthened public employee unions might drive up government labor costs, but they also will benefit workers far beyond their own ranks by setting higher benchmarks for wages and benefits and sustaining hundreds of thousands of middle-class families who live within New York State, paying taxes and spending money.

Freeman goes on by citing a possible compromise if there is no new contract and he also makes the case that unions should not be reckless with the strike weapon.

It is an excellent read. This blog fully endorses the Nixon proposal as the way to level the playing field between workers and management.


Anonymous said...

Half of the NY Daily News staff just got canned by management. Makes sense that they now support the ability to strike. NYC on the other hand is the biggest municipality in the country. It makes sense that the mayor would not want a shutdown of services that would take place if strikes are legal. i not foresee the Taylor Law being changed anytime soon.

James Eterno said...

Stop trying to hijack posts. It takes me a while, but I get to them.

James Eterno said...

Making striking legal should be a major priority of every government union in NYS.

TJL said...

The Taylor Law and Triborough Amendment ought to be repealed. Can it be possibly be challenged in the courts in the meantime?

Both of these laws enable the government and Union to string all of us along ad infinitum.

With both laws repealed, the government would have a huge incentive to come to an agreement before the contract expires. The second the government reduces benefits (the point of the Triborough Amendment) we could go on strike. Neither side would be happy and we would have on-time contracts. Good-bye 11-year delayed retro.

James Eterno said...

TJL, The Taylor Law is a long statute. Some of it we like. I would not repeal the entire law, just the parts that prohibit strikes. The Chief Leader covered this story too. I will try to post their take later.

Anonymous said...

The municipal unions have been exposed as weak,complacent and not what they use to be one to two generations ago.

Anonymous said...

Up to rank and file to change that.

Anonymous said...

Does the UFT support or oppose us having the right to strike? Why haven’t they spoken up about this?

Anonymous said...

Ask them to take a position.

Anonymous said...

The right to strike will end all this bullshit. People will agree on the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or labor walks. Both sides will be motivated to settle

Anonymous said...

Jesus H. Christ, if any of you think the UFT is willing to even consider taking up a strike is a reality, well, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. You all need to get real. The UFT is all about having a "seat at the table" with the Mayor and as such the UFT has no incentive to rock the boat. Trust me, It will be a cold day in hell if the word "strike" is even mentioned at 52 Broadway.

Worst Nightmare said...

They heave had 50 years to do something about it. I once had the audacity to ask Rona Frieser about it. All I got was silence and the hairy eyeball.
The red states went on strike despite their “laws”.
The company union sees us as sheep that are there for the fleecing.
Union dues are a protection racket. The racket is a scam. They only protect themselves.
The future is more fleecing and no strike.
They don’t have the stones and neither do the members.
No offense, ladies.
Any other union getting hurt like us? Females get hurt and have since time began. Pink collars and all.
Think that the powers that be would pull this on cops or sanitation?

James Eterno said...

The UFT was had plenty of women during the 1960s and went on strike multiple times.

Read your history. President Charles Cogen and his main lieutenant Albert Shanker did not want a strike in 1962. Militants from the high schools Sam Hochberg and Roger Parente led a group from the rank and file who won a majority for a strike vote. The union won the strike.

Public support for red state strikes was high in 2018.

We have basic issues of dignity that could be strike issues today in NYC. Militancy has to come from us. Expecting it from leadership is like waiting for Batman, Superman and Spiderman to come to save you. We have the power to save ourselves if we would just get together and use it.

All that said, I agree that under current circumstance we would never consider a strike and would lose it badly if we did. Up to all of us to change that.