This year, Governor Cuomo signed a law making changes to the Taylor Law to strengthen public unions. The Taylor Law, officially the Public Employees Fair Employment Act, defines the rights and limitations for public employees in New York. The major changes to the existing law include the following:
- Previously, there was no deadline by which an employer had to start collecting union dues. Now, dues deductions have to begin no later than 30 days after dues deductions cards are signed.
- Within 30 days of an employee’s hiring or rehiring, the employer has to notify the union of the hiring, transfer or assignment into the bargaining unit. The notification has to include the employee’s name, address, job title, employment agency, department or operating unit, and work location. This means if an employee simply transfers to a different bargaining unit within the same employer, the employer still needs to notify the union.
- After the employer has notified the union, within 30 days the union will have a meeting with that employee for a reasonable amount of time during work hours without charging the employee’s leave balance or accrual, unless the collective bargaining agreement provides differently.
- An employee’s dues deduction card remains valid if the employee leaves employment for no more than one year.
- If an employee is removed from payroll or is on a voluntary or involuntary leave of absence, the employee’s union membership remains active when the employee resumes active service. Whether the leave was paid or not has no effect.
- If an employee wants to withdraw from their union, the withdrawal must be in conformance with the language on the deduction card.
- Unions subject to the Taylor Law are not obligated to represent non-dues payment members in any investigation of employee misconduct, evaluation, grievances, arbitration or any other process concerning evaluation or discipline contained in the collective bargaining agreement.
- Unions subject to the Taylor Law only have to present non-dues payment members in the negotiation of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement or the enforcement of the agreement’s terms.
Of course, these changes are subject to the subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision discussed in our July 10, 2018 blog post, which provided that nonmembers of public unions could choose to stop paying dues. If some of the new provisions of the Taylor Law are subsequently found to be illegal due to the Supreme Court decision, the remaining provisions will remain in effect.