December 17, 2010

Modifying a disciplinary procedure

Modifying a disciplinary procedure
NYC Transit Auth, v PERB, 276 AD2d 702, Motion for leave to appeal denied, 96 NY2d 713

The New York City Transit Authority case demonstrates the fact that neither an employer nor an employee organization may unilaterally modify a statutory or negotiated disciplinary procedures. Where such changes are desired, they are subject to the collective bargaining process set out in the Taylor Law.*

The case started after the New York City Transit Authority and the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority [TA] unilaterally adopted new rules setting out revised standards and penalties with respect to convictions, moving violations, and motor vehicle accidents involving TA bus drivers.

Contending that these changes imposed rules that were more stringent than those they replaced, the Amalgamated Transit Union, Divisions 726 and 1056 and Local 100, Transport Workers Union of America [Union], representing TA employees affected by the change filed an improper practice charge with PERB.

PERB’s Administrative Law Judge [ALJ] rejected TA’s argument that the revised standards and penalties were qualifications to be satisfied before becoming a bus driver and thus not terms and conditions of employment for the purposes of the Taylor Law.

The ALJ held that the changes imposed by the TA constituted terms and conditions to be satisfied to continue employment as a bus driver rather than qualifications for employment. Accordingly, concluded the ALJ, the changes made by the TA were a mandatory subject of collective bargaining under the Taylor Law.

The bottom line: the ALJ ruled that TA’s refusal to engage in negotiations prior to before imposing the revisions violated the mandates of Section 209-a.1(d). TA appealed but PERB sustained its ALJ’s decision, noting that since the revised standards carried a disciplinary component, they were mandatory items of negotiation and thus TA should have first entered into collective negotiations with the Union concerning these changes.

PERB issued its ruling that the TA had violated Section 209-a.1(d) of the Civil Service Law Section by unilaterally implementing new disciplinary work rules and penalties. Finding that PERB’s decision was neither irrational, unreasonable, nor affected by any error of law, the Appellate Division, Second Department, sustained the ruling and dismissed the TA’s appeal.

* Section 76 of the Civil Service Law and Section 3020-a of the Education Law authorize the negotiating an alternative to the disciplinary procedures set out in those law pursuant to the Taylor Law. For information about PELP's The Discipline Book, go to: http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

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