Sunday, June 10, 2012
Matter of NYC Transit Authority v. PERB, ___N.Y. 3d____(June 17, 2012), is an important case. The employer unilaterally imposed more stringent dual employment standards for certain employees. Though not explained in the decision, these policies appear to have limited employee moonlighting. In upholding PERB's finding that an IP occurred, the Court explained:
It is well settled that "[t]he Taylor Law (Civil Service Law art 14) requires collective bargaining over all 'terms and conditions of employment'" (Matter of Patrolmen's Benevolent Assn. of City of N.Y., Inc. v New York State Pub. Empl. Relations Bd., 6 NY3d 563, [*3]572 , quoting Civil Service Law § 204 ). Where a public employee alleges that a public employer has failed to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment — an improper employer practice (see Civil Service Law § 209-a  [d]), PERB has exclusive jurisdiction to resolve the dispute between the parties (see Civil Service Law § 205  [d]; see also Matter of Zuckerman v Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of N.Y., 44 NY2d 336, 342 ). We "have made clear that 'the presumption . . . that all terms and conditions of employment are subject to mandatory bargaining' cannot easily be overcome" (Matter of Patrolmen's Benevolent Assn. of City of N.Y., Inc. 6 NY3d at 572, quoting Matter of City of Watertown v State of N.Y. Pub. Empl. Relations Bd., 95 NY2d 73, 79 ). However, "certain decisions of an employer, though not without impact upon its employees, may not be deemed mandatorily negotiable terms and conditions of employment . . . because they are inherently and fundamentally policy decisions relating to the primary mission of the public employer" (Matter of Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of N.Y. v New York State Pub. Empl. Relations Bd., 75 NY2d 660, 669 ; see also Matter of County of Erie v State of N.Y. Pub. Empl. Relations Bd., 12 NY3d 72, 78 ).
Here, the NYCTA urges us to hold that its implementation of more stringent dual employment standards was mission-related and, therefore, not subject to collective bargaining. It is indisputable that the NYCTA's core mission is to provide a safe system of public transit (see Public Authorities Law §§ 1202 , 1204 ). Although we need not "defer to PERB's judgment" (Matter of Patrolmen's Benevolent Assn. of City of N.Y., Inc., 6 NY3d at 575) on whether an employer's unilateral policy decision relates to its primary mission, the record in this case is inadequate to support the NYCTA's argument that the dual employment standards at issue were in furtherance of its core mission of public safety. As noted earlier, the NYCTA did not rely on particular safety studies when it imposed these new standards. Moreover, the NYCTA did not explain why it chose to impose the more restrictive dual employment standards on certain safety-sensitive employees — train conductors, train operators and tower operators — while exempting others — bus operators and train dispatchers — who share similar job functions. Simply put, on the limited record before us, there is an insufficient basis to disturb PERB's determination.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein