For non-New Yorkers, a little refresher: we have a reprehensible law in New York called the Taylor Law. It prevents public workers from striking and imposes horrendous penalties on strikers and their unions if they try to exercise a basic democratic right. Since the transit workers strike this past December, there has been talk within labor of pushing hard to change the Taylor Law. In March, there was a hearing in the New York City Council about the odious law, though the Council has not legal authority to change the law.
Well, there is a bit of movement, though not likely that it will get past Gov. George Pataki. The New York Times reports today that:
Legislators did reach agreement on several bills that would have the effect of weakening the Taylor Law by granting public workers raises if progress is not made in negotiations.
Legislation passed last week would automatically award a 1 percent pay raise to union members if a government agency was proven to have stalled or did not bargain with the union "in good faith." And they would receive a 0.5 percent pay raise every three months if the employer continued to stall in talks.
The legislation would also reduce the fines imposed on public employees who strike. The bills will likely face opposition from Mr. Pataki, who has blocked similar legislation in the past.
Another reason to look forward to a Democratic governor this fall, though we are still burdened by a Republican State Senate so any changes are not likely to sail through even in 2007. And, to boot, at least what I read here (and I haven't had time to run down this from independent sources--anyone know more?) this only imposes some financial penalties on employers for playing unreasonable hardball but still leaves the ban on striking in place.