Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The TWU filed a complaint, here, alleging the ban on public employee strikes and the penalties issued against the TWU in 2006 NYC Transit Strike were improper. On Nov. 1, 2011, the ILO issued a lengthly decision, here, agreeing with the TWU, reasoning in part:
As regards the overall prohibition of strike action in the public service under the Taylor Law, the Committee recalls that it has always recognized the right to strike by workers and their organizations as a legitimate means of defending their economic and social interests [see Digest, op. cit., para. 521]. While the right to strike may be restricted or prohibited: (1) in the public service only for public servants exercising authority in the name of the State; or (2) in essential services in the strict sense of the term (that is, services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population), the Committee recalls that the transportation sector, including metropolitan transport, does not constitute an essential service in the strict sense of the term [see Digest, op. cit., paras 576 and 587]. GB.312/INS/9 190 GB312-INS_9_[2011-11-0195-1]-Web only-En.docx
The TWU web site contains additional information about this important decision.
So what does this mean?? I am afraid very little. The decision itself notes that the U.S. has not ratified a treaty and presumably this means that the U.S. is not bound by the decision which simply recommends that the U.S. take steps to rectify the situation and make the union and its President, who was jailed for striking, whole.
The decision could mean something in the political arena. However, since this decision does not appear to break new ground and public employee strikes have been unlawful in many states for many years, the prospect for any real change would appear to be quite small.
Remarkably, little press has been generated about this important issue. Hopefully, that will change.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein