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Friday, August 12, 2016

Duties and responsibilities of members of Taylor Law “union negotiating committees” and "management teams”


Duties and responsibilities of members of Taylor Law “union negotiating committees” and "management teams”
Matter of Jeffersonville-Youngsville CSD, Decision U-6341
Matter of the Town of  Dresden, Decision U-7383
Matter of Nassau County Community College, 24 PERB 4583
Copaigue Union Free School District, 23 PERB 3046
Village of Port Chester, Decisions U-7856; U-7941

The summaries of the several PERB rulings set out below serve as a reminder of the major duties and responsibilities of members of the negotiating body representing union members and the negotiating team representing the employer in collective bargaining pursuant to Article 14 of the Civil Service Law, the Taylor Law, during the ratification process of the proposed collective bargaining agreement as well as the duties imposed on the “legislative body” that may be involved in the ratification process.


Matter of Jeffersonville-Youngsville CSD, PERB U-6341

The Jeffersonville-Youngsville Central School District negotiating team consisted of the Superintendent and three School Board members.

The District’s and the Union’s negotiating teams had agreed to all terms of a proposed agreement except the "2nd year salary offer." After obtaining authority to place an additional $2,000 "on the table" from the seven member School Board during the final day of negotiations, the Superintendent offered, and the Union accepted, a settlement which provided for more than the additional $2,000 authorized by the Board.

Although the Union's member ratified the agreement, the full School Board did not, with two to the three Board members of the District's negotiating team voting against the "ratification." When the Superintendent declined to execute a "memorandum agreement," the Union filed an unfair labor practice claim with PERB. 

Ultimately PERB directed the Superintendent to sign the memorandum agreement with the Union and, if requested, to sign "a formal ... contract" reflecting the salary agreements reached with the Union in the course of collective bargaining.

PERB explained that a School Board may not deprive the District's negotiating team of the power vested in it to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. The School Board, as the "legislative body" has a different role (see Civil Service Law §201). PERB also commented that the School Board did not advise the Union of any "restrictions" on the District's team, "even if it had the authority to do so."

PERB also indicated that with respect to the two team/Board Members who voted against ratification, "each member of a negotiating team is obligated to support every part of an agreement unless the other party has been advised that he (or she) dissented from the part of the agreement which he subsequently opposed" in the course of negotiations.”

N.B. Unresolved, however, is the question of "legislative action ... providing the additional funds" by the School Board. Under the Taylor Law, any provision of an agreement that requires action by a legislative body, such as the allocation of funds, is not to take effect until the legislative body concerned acts to provide the required monies.* When the full Board votes on this matter, presumably all three "team/Board members" will be required to vote in favor of the allocation of required funds consistent with their "team position." This illustrates another of the difficulties that must be considered when a member of the "legislative body" is also designated to serve as a negotiating team member.


Matter of the Town of Dresden

In another case in which PERB distinguish the different roles administrators and legislators have in Taylor Law negotiations is Matter of the Town of Dresden, Case U-7383.

In this instance the Town Supervisor refused to sign the negotiated agreement contending that he lacked authority to reach a final agreement without the prior approval of the Town Board. The Union filed an improper practice charge with PERB.

PERB said that the Taylor Law contemplates negotiations will be an executive rather than a legislative process. Any resulting agreement is between the employer's administrative body and the Union and is binding on the parties. Those provisions requiring approval by the legislature, typically appropriations and related actions are not enforceable until the necessary legislative action is taken as earlier noted. 


Matter of Nassau County Community College

Another element to consider regarding the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement negotiated pursuant to the Taylor Law concerns the duty of negotiators to recommend ratification of a proposed agreement.

In Matter of Nassau County Community College, 24 PERB 4583, PERB sustained its Administrative Law Judges ruling that "the failure of negotiators affirmatively to support an agreement is in violation of the Taylor Law unless the negotiators had advised the other party in advance that they would not give such support." As a remedy, it ordered the union to execute a collective bargaining agreement embodying the agreements reached by the parties and reflected in a memorandum of understanding if requested to do so by the employer.


Matter of Copaigue Union Free School District

In a situation similar to the one the served of the genesis of Matter of Nassau Community College, in the course of the process of ratifying the proposed collective bargaining agreement between the Copaigue Union Free School District and a collective bargaining unit of employees in the District, the Union's chief negotiator, at the beginning of a unit member meeting to vote on the ratification of a proposed agreement, announced that the Union’s four person negotiating committee was deadlocked, 2 to 2, with respect to approving the ratification of the tentative agreement. The union members then voted and the proposed agreement was rejected.

Copaigue filed an unfair labor practice charge with PERB alleging that the Union’s chief negotiator’s statement violated §209-a.2(b) of the Taylor Law. PERB’s Administrative Law Judge agreed, holding that the disclosure of the split in the views of the team members concerning the acceptance or rejection of the tentative agreement by the chief negotiator was, at best, the expression of a "neutral position on the part of the negotiating team in contravention of its duty under the [Taylor Law] to affirmatively support ratification."

PERB affirmed the ALJ’s ruling, noting that "the failure of negotiators affirmatively to support an agreement is in violation of the Taylor Law unless the negotiators had advised the other party in advance that they would not give such support."


Village of Port Chester

Alleged misunderstanding of the terms and conditions set out in a collective bargaining agreement by a party does not permit that party to repudiate the collective bargaining agreement or apply its interpretation of its terms and conditions..

As PERB ruled in Village of Port Chester, Cases U-7856; U-7941, an agreement ratified by the Village's Trustees cannot be thereafter repudiated by the Village on the grounds that it was not given a thorough explanation of the provisions in the agreement prior to its being ratified nor may it impose its understanding of the contents of the agreement upon the union as the ratification process is of no consequence with respect to the validity of the agreement.

* Civil Service Law §204-a. Agreements between public employers and employee organizations.
1. Any written agreement between a public employer and  an employee organization determining the terms and conditions of  employment of public employees shall contain the following notice in  type not smaller than the largest type used elsewhere in such agreement:  "It is agreed by and between the parties that any provision of this  agreement requiring legislative action to permit its implementation by  amendment of law or by providing the additional funds therefor, shall  not become effective until the appropriate legislative body has given  approval."


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