Monday, October 29, 2012

Powers set out in Election Law 3-300 trump relevant provisions in a contract negotiated pursuant to the Taylor Law


Powers set out in Election Law 3-300 trump relevant provisions in a contract negotiated pursuant to the Taylor Law
County of Erie v Civil Serv. Empls. Assn., Local 815, 2012 NY Slip Op 07144, Court of Appeals

In Town of Wallkill v Civil Serv. Empls. Assn., Inc. (Local 1000, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Town of Wallkill Police Dept. Unit, Orange County Local 836), 2012 NY Slip Op 07146,  the Court of Appeals ruled that §155 of the Town Law prohibited Taylor Law negotiations providing for an alternative disciplinary procedure [see http://publicpersonnellaw.blogspot.com/2012/10/negotiating-disciplinary-procedures.html].

In County of Erie v Civil Service Employees Association, Local 815, the high court held that Eric County [the County] could not agree to contract provisions in the course of collective bargaining pursuant to the Taylor Law that would limit the powers vested in the County's Board of Elections by §3-300 of the Election Law.

Affirming an order of the Appellate Division, the Court of Appeals, Justice Ciparick dissenting, ruled that  the County could not negate or restrict the Erie County Board of Elections’ (the Board) statutory power to remove employees’ nor restrict the Board’s scheduling of its employees' work shifts on election day so as to provide adequate coverage in the course of collective bargaining in view of the authority vested in the Board by §3-300 of the Election Law.*

The Civil Service Employees Association, Local 815 (CSEA), had filed a grievance on behalf of certain employees of the Board alleging that the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the County and CSEA was violated when the Board modified the work hours of its employees assigned to school district elections in a way that deprived these employees of overtime compensation.

After the Board denied the grievance, CSEA notified the County of its intent to arbitrate the dispute. The County objected and Supreme Court to granted the County’s motion stay arbitration, which ruling was affirmed by the Appellate Division (see 82 AD3d 1633).

Relying on the provisions set out in §3-300 of the Election Law, the Appellate Division concluded that the County could not negotiate away the Board’s statutory authority with respect to [1] the appointment and removal of its employees or its prescribing their duties, nor [2] diminish or impair any other authority vested in the Board by the statute in the course of collective bargaining under the Taylor Law. The Court of Appeals agreed.

EDITOR'S COMMENT: This ruling is consistent with case law holding that a statutory right enjoyed by an employee may not be negotiated away through collective bargaining. For example, a collective bargaining agreement provided that in determining seniority in the event of demotions in connection with a layoff of employees in the competitive class, the "date hired" was to be used to determine the employee's seniority.. §80 of the Civil Service Law provides that the initial date of "permanent appointment" controls in determining seniority for the purpose of layoff. After an employee having the earlier “date hired” was retained in the position and a person having the earlier date of “permanent appointment” was laid off instead, the Appellate Division ruled that the seniority provisions of the Civil Service Law controlled notwithstanding the “layoff provisions” addressing "seniority" for the purposes of layoff set out in the contract between the parties negotiated pursuant to the Taylor Law [see City of Plattsburgh v Local 788, 108 AD2d 104]

* Section 3-300 of the Election Law vests every board of elections with exclusive power to "appoint, and at its pleasure remove, clerks, voting machine technicians, custodians and other employees, fix their number, prescribe their duties, fix their titles and rank and establish their salaries within the amounts appropriated therefor by the local legislative body and shall secure in the appointment of employees of the board of elections equal representation of the major political parties."

The Eric County decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_07144.htm

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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