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Repealing Triborough Amendment is Core Reform Issue in NYS – support the fight. Plus, buffalo teachers union contract that leaves no doubt as to why.

January 27, 2011

PROSPERITY... for all New Yorkers

PROSPERITY... for all New Yorkers

 January 20, 2011

 Dear Supporters:

Yesterday we announced our chief legislative priority for 2011: repealing New York’s Triborough Amendment which has unfairly added millions of dollars in extra costs to state, county, and local governments, the group says.

The Triborough Amendment, which was enacted in 1982 as an amendment to New York’s Taylor Law, prohibits a public employer -the taxpayers – from changing any provision in an expired labor contract until a new contract is signed.  In other words, it’s rigged: it guarantees built-in pay increases and benefits for unionized public employees in perpetuity if a new contract is not signed.  That removes any incentive for public service unions to negotiate, guaranteeing that any new contract be more generous than the last.

“Repeal of the Triborough Amendment is an essential first step for fiscal reform in New York State,” said New Yorkers for Growth spokesman, former Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld. “We have a rigged system in New York with the public service unions holding all the cards.  New Yorkers for Growth strongly urges the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to repeal this ridiculous law.”

You can find an article highlighting our fight against the Triborough Amendment below.

Please check regularly for updates on our fight against this onerous provision. 

Best regards, 

New Yorkers for Growth  – P.O. Box 4552 Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
www.newyorkersforgrowth.com

Other Pro-Business Groups Target Repeal Of Triborough Amendment

By Andrew J. Hawkins

The Committee to Save New York will not be the only pro-business effort to go after change in Albany this year.

The fiscally conservative New Yorkers for Growth is leading the charge to repeal the Triborough Amendment, a provision of the state’s Taylor Law that allows unions to operate under the provisions of an expired contract while a new contract is being negotiated. And they will not be alone: Unshackle Upstate, a business advocacy organization, says it would support any effort to eliminate the measure.

Liz Feld, the former mayor of Larchmont and a spokesperson for New Yorkers for Growth, urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to consider changing the law as part of his effort rein in state spending and trim the budget.

“Taxpayers don’t even know what [the Triborough Amendment] is, much less the financial consequences,” Feld said. “We consider it one of the dirty little secrets of collective bargaining.”

Feld argued that the amendment guarantees built-in pay increases and benefits to public sector unions “in perpetuity” if a new contract is not signed, essentially eliminating a union’s incentive to negotiate a new contract in a timely fashion. She said the release of this year’s budget would be Cuomo’s chance to pair his message with real reforms.

Brian Sampson, president of Unshackle Upstate, said that repealing the law would be key to Cuomo’s mandate relief taskforce as it sets out to redesign state spending formulas.

“Nobody wants to take money out of a classroom, nobody wants to take money away from students,” Sampson said. “But you can’t afford the system that’s there. And these laws, Taylor and Triborough, give a significant advantage to unions in collective bargaining, in that you can’t discuss wages, you can’t discuss healthcare benefits, you can’t discuss contributions, you can’t discuss any of that.”

Sampson said that to avoid layoffs, public sector unions would need to compromise on the Triborough Amendment.

But unions seem unwilling to budge on the measure.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said pro-business groups have tried, and failed, to repeal the amendment in the past. Triborough, he said, was enacted as a protection for municipalities and unions, and even some labor leaders have questioned its effectiveness

“When you have both sides complaining about it, that means it’s probably doing it’s job,” said Mulgrew, whose members are currently operating under the provisions of their expired contract while the details of a new contract with the city are being hammered out. “Someone trying to take this economic downturn and use it to push a political agenda that they feel is good for the state is really irresponsible.”

Stephen Madarasz, a spokesperson for CSEA, said the Triborough Amendment “provides balance” and ensures that both employers and unions negotiate under good faith. That said, he was unconcerned with the latest effort to force its repeal, but declined to provide details on how his union would fight back.

“We’re not going to speculate what we would do,” he said. “We’ll make our case. It’s as simple as that.”

January 3, 2011

Triborough Amendment “Enhances” Buffalo Teachers’ Contract and Appearance

Little Known Law Picks Taxpayer Pockets

Taxpayers paid over $9 million to cover elective plastic surgery for members of the Buffalo Teachers Union in 2009, according to the Buffalo News. How is that possible?

Here’s how: The last negotiated employment contract between the Teachers Union and the Buffalo Public School District – which expired in 2004 – inexplicably included an “elective cosmetic surgery” provision. Six years later, although the benefit has long been derided by fiscal monitors, the union refuses to let go of this unaffordable perk, despite the fact that this single benefit amounts to approximately 10% of all their health costs.  The school district, which is in continuous financial distress, cannot simply eliminate the benefit from the expired contract.  Why?  Because all of the terms and conditions under the expired contract continue – even unaffordable cosmetic enhancements – because of a state law known as the “Triborough Amendment”.  Triborough – another Albany mandate little known to taxpayers  – is driving local governments and school districts into fiscal insolvency.

The Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law gives undo bargaining power to public sector unions by locking existing contracts in place while new ones are negotiated.   Unions typically continue to receive raises, known as longevity or step increases, even after contracts expire courtesy of Triborough.  As such, the bargaining position of unions is considerably improved relative to that of management.  The unions know – like the Buffalo Teachers – that if they simply refuse to concede anything they can preserve a status quo filled with guaranteed benefits.
New Yorkers for Growth will be putting the Triborough Amendment squarely in its sights in 2011. If New York is ever going to thrive again, the Triborough Amendment has to go.

Please find a link to a Buffalo News editorial discussing this issue here.

AS A FOOT NOTE FROM US: ALTHOUGH WE DO NOT HAVE THE LINK HERE, YOU MAY HAVE HERD THAT FORMER GOVERNOR CANDIDATE CARL PALADINO SPOKE OUT ABOUT THE BUFFALO SCHOOLS AND RAILED AGAINST THE SCHOOL BOARD, THE UNIONS, AND THE WHOLE DARN SYSTEM. WITH BUFFALO SCHOOLS IN TROUBLE AS THEY ARE, IS IT ANY WONDER HE DID SO.
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