The flaw in the law

Now that the NYC transit strike is apparently over, I've managed to find time to take a look at the Taylor Law. As I mentioned before, I'm suspicious of any law that takes away a union's right to strike. That said, I'm willing to believe that there may be some strikes which are so disruptive that a legitimate public interest is served by outlawing them.

If you're going to ban strikes, however, you'd better make damn sure that workers have a viable alternative. In the case of public employees in the state of New York, the alternative is to submit to binding arbitration at the hands of the Public Employees Relations Board. The problem with this is that appointment to PERB is (more or less) controlled by the same people who control appointment to the board of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. That is, both boards are appointed by the governor[1] and confirmed by the legislature.

The upshot is that public employees in the state of New York lack both a right to strike and the right to substantively neutral arbitration. Throw in the fact that there appear to be no penalties for violations of the Taylor Law by employers, and it's pretty clear that the legal playing field is uneven.

1 In the case of the MTA, the governor makes appointments partly on the basis of recommendations from NYC, surrounding counties, and other stakeholders.

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