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Personnel costs are a major element in what Governor Eliot Spitzer has described as a “perfect storm of unaffordability” threatening the state’s future.
Employee salaries and benefits-which account for 71 percent of municipal government operating expenses and fully three-quarters of school district expenditures across New York-are a key ingredient in the nation’s heaviest state and local tax burden.
Interspersed throughout are narrative exhibits and charts illustrating the cost and consequences of the Taylor Law.
The nearly 2 million New Yorkers who are union members comprise 24 percent of the state’s workforce-the highest rate of unionization in the country, double the average for all states, although New York has tracked the national decline in union membership over the past 35 years.
The Taylor Law was designed to create a comprehensive framework for orderly resolution of labor-management disputes in state and local government. Strikes by public employees in New York are now rare.
The vast majority of contract negotiations are settled without resort to third-party intervention.
Efforts to reduce this burden are hampered by aspects of the Taylor Law that have evolved to the distinct disadvantage of management.
Any weakening of the law’s penalty provisions for unions and employees who participate in illegal strikes clearly would be against the public interest. The first reviews the background and development of the Taylor Law.New York State courts historically had treated public-sector strikes as illegal and never hesitated to enjoin unions from striking.Condon-Wadlin, however, created new penalties that would come to be seen as draconian.At least 69 percent of New York government workers-including a small component of federal employees-are union members, compared to a national average of 36 percent.These estimates probably understate the true extent of unionization in New York’s state and local governments and school districts, where supervisors (such as principals, police sergeants and maintenance foremen) as well as line workers commonly are unionized.