“ bad faith bargaining ” H u m a n i t i e s

“ bad faith bargaining ” H u m a n i t i e s

1. Do you ride any form of public (city or state owned) or private (Uber-type) transit?   You can use past experience here as well.

2.  If so, what kind and how efficient and pleasant a ride was it?  Please be specific and give details.

3.  If not, what would you do if you didn’t have a car to use to get to school, work, a friends, a hospital, an athletic event, a party, a religious service?  Please address all of these and any others you can think are important.  Each might need a different response.  You might be able to walk to some, call a friend for others, organize a charter bus for some, pool with other members for the religious service or call an emergency vehicle.

4.  How would you design the perfect transportation system?  Please take into account the following:  Area to be covered (are you thinking NYC or a smaller community), people to be served, affordability, quality of interior, frequency of stops, needs for disabled and elderly riders, hours available.

5.  What 10th right would you add to the Bill of Rights proposed in the book?  Please remember you are adding to the Transit Riders Bill of Rights in the book by Attoh.

Summary of what happened:The Transit Workers Union, a union of approximately 40,000 workers subway and bus drivers primarily in New York City, entered into contract negotiations with the New York City Transit Authority, a public benefit corporation responsible for transportation in New York City, Westchester County and parts of Connecticut.  When the talks broke down with allegations of “bad faith bargaining” on both sides, the union membership felt strongly enough about what it perceived as the failure of the MTA to take its working conditions seriously that it voted to strike.  This was a hard decision because the statute covering employees for all government entities in New York State, the Taylor Law of 1967, prohibits public sector workers from going on strike and imposes very severe penalties if they do. At 3:00 in the morning of December 20, 2005, the workers walked off the job effectively shutting down all means of public transportation in the city. A judge imposed penalties immediately including a million dollar fine for each day of the strike, contempt of court for the union president (for violating a court injunction against the strike) which carried with it ten days of jail time, and an order that the union could no longer deduct union dues from the payroll and would have to collect the amount from each worker individually every two weeks.  The union sued the MTA and the State of New York for violating international labor law standards.  The United Nations has within it a specialized agency called the International Labor Organization (ILO) that writes standards about wages, working conditions and union rights.  One of those rights is the right to strike.  The ILO also has a tribunal that hears cases in violation of its standards. First, the case went into a state trial court in Brooklyn, in the matter of the injunction.  The judge granted the injunction, that it, he ordered the union to return to work and end the strike.  When this didn’t happen, the judge issued a contempt of court order against the president of the union, Roger Toussaint.  At the same time, an administrative law judge was hearing a parallel case dealing with the contract negotiations that had been going on between the union and the MTA.  This part of the process of litigating the strike stemmed from a state law, the Taylor Law, that created the right of workers to join a union and bargain a contract, but not the right to strike.  So now there are two tracks that is reviewing the strike situation.  Administrative law is outside civil or criminal law and is handled in its own sphere of law.  This is entirely related to the state law in this case.  The decision of this administrative law case goes against the union. Meanwhile, the union and the MTA are back in a trial court on the issue of the strike itself.  This judge is the same one who ruled on the injunction so it is no surprise that he decided again against the union on the grounds that the union violated the Taylor Law.  It upheld all the penalties.  The union appealed to the New York State Appellate Division and lost again.At that point, the president of the union, Roger Toussaint, took a dramatic turn.  Instead of continuing in the New York State Unified Court System and appeal to the highest NYS Court, the Court of Appeals, he proposed that the union go directly to the ILO for a decision by the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA), a committee of the ILO that adjudicates exactly these kinds of disputes.The membership of the ILO is what is called tripartite, in other words, composed of three distinct constituencies:  the government, the employers and the workers.  Every nation that belongs to the ILO (currently 187 out of the total 193 nations of the United Nations) sends two representatives from the government (usually a department of labor), one representative from business (now from an organization called United States Council for International Business) and one representative labor (traditionally the largest umbrella organization in the nation for labor unions—in the United States, the AFL-CIO).  All committees of the ILO, including the CFA, mirror this tripartite representation so when the CFA makes a decision it has been reviewed by all three groups who come to a decision by consensus, not by majority vote.  This means that people who come from very different backgrounds and have divergent perspectives have agreed on the decision.The TWU submitted its Complaint (statement of what it wants the CFA to say in its favor) in November 2008.  At this point in the process, the TWU is filing against the United States government, not the state of New York.  When the CFA receives a complaint, the committee members review it and then write to the government representative from the member nation and request a reply to the allegations made in the complaint.  That reply is drafted by the office that sent the representative.  For the United States, that is the Department of Labor.  At this international level, the complaint is brought against the member nation, in this case, the United States, not the state, that is, New York. The process of the CFA requires the United States to respond to the charges of the union.  It took the US two years.to answer the TWU’s complaint.  (The complaint is attached to this syllabus.)  When it did reply, the basis for its rejection of the TWU Complaint was that the federal government, under the doctrine of Federalism on which the country is founded, did not allow the federal government to interfere with laws of the individual states. The CFA then met to deliberate and came to a consensus that the Taylor Law of New York State violated the standards the ILO promulgated for labor law in two Conventions, #87 and #98.  In other words, it agreed with the TWU Complaint that there was established international labor law that gave to both public and private employees the right  to strike except in cases where the employees were considered “essential” to the functioning of government.  Transit workers did not, according to the CFA, fall into that category.  

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