In the Plattsburgh case the issue concerned the application of a Taylor Law contract provision dealing with seniority in a layoff situation.
The collective bargaining agreement between Plattsburgh and the Union provided if there were to be demotions in connection with a layoff, the "date of hire" was to be used to determine an employee's seniority. However, the "date of hire" might not necessarily be the same date used to determine an individual's service for seniority purposes for layoff under State law, i.e., the individual's date of initial permanent appointment in public service.
For example, assume Employee A was provisionally appointed on January 1, and Employee B was provisionally appointed February 1, of the same year. Employee B, however, was permanently appointed on March 1 of the same year, while Employee A was permanently appointed a month later, on April 1.
Under the terms of the Local 788 collective bargaining agreement A would have greater seniority for layoff purposes than B. But §§80 and 80-a of the Civil Service Law provides that the date of an individual's most recent, uninterrupted "permanent appointment" determines his or her seniority for the purposes of layoff and so, under the law, B would have greater seniority than A.
These were the critical events in the Plattsburgh case. The City laid off Mousseau rather than another worker, Racine. While Mousseau, had been employed by the City for a longer period than Racine, Racine had received his permanent appointment before Mousseau was permanently appointed.
The Union grieved, contending that under the seniority provision in the collective bargaining agreement, Racine should have been laid off. The City, on the other hand, argued that Civil Service Law §80 controlled and thus Mousseau, rather than Racine, had to be laid off first. The Appellate Division ruled that Plattsburgh was entitled to an order barring submitting the Union’s grievance to arbitration. The Court said that §80 of the Civil Service Law "reflects a legislative imperative" that the City was powerless to bargain away.
Similarly, in Szumigala v Hicksville Union Free School District, 148 AD2d 621, the Appellate Division, citing Cheektowaga v Nyquest, 38 NY2d 137, held that a seniority clause in a Taylor Law agreement violated §2510 of the Education Law when it permitted seniority in different tenure areas to be combined for the purposes of determining seniority with the District for the purposes of layoff.
As the Court of Appeals said in County of Chautauqua v Civil Service Employees Ass'n, 8 N.Y.3d 513, “Once such an informed decision as to which positions are to be [abolished] is made, §80(1) obligates the employer to respect the seniority rights of its employees." The same it true with respect to layoffs of personnel in the unclassified service.