August 20, 2019

Representation rights of unions


Representation questions concerning negotiating terms and conditions of employment usually focus on which union is authorized to represent the employees in a particular collective bargaining unit. This case involved a union that claimed the provisions of a local law binding on one employer were binding on a second employer because both employers were party to a joint agreement with the union.   

The case involved the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and the City itself, which are separate legal entities. Both the City and the Hospitals Corporation signed a Citywide Collective Bargaining Agreement with a union.

The Hospitals Corporation decided to "privatize" the security operations at its headquarters by replacing its then security personnel with private security guards.* The union challenged the Corporation's action, contending that it was subject to New York City Local Law 35 which regulated "the privatization of services performed by City employees."

When the Hospital Corporation signed the collective bargaining agreement, did the Corporation become subject to Local Law 35? And, if so, did the services covered include all services or only certain services?

The union cited Article I of the Agreement in support of its position. Article I provided that the union was "the sole and exclusive collective bargaining representative [for employees of the City and the Corporation] on citywide matters which must be uniform for the [covered] employees."

The Appellate Division, however, did not view this provision as mandating uniformity in the terms and conditions of employment for all employees covered by the agreement.

The Court decided that Article I merely recognized the union as the sole bargaining agent for "matters which must be uniform"; it did not affect the autonomy of the Corporation with respect to its making personnel decisions affecting its own employees where city-wide uniformity was not required or implicated.

Dismissing the union's petition, the Court said that even assuming that the Corporation could elect to subject itself to specific laws or rules generally applicable to City employees, it did not do so by entering into the "Citywide Collective Bargaining Agreement."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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