cuomo-nypost-150x150-5276754Governor Andrew Cuomo has vetoed two measures that were legislative priorities for public-sector unions.

The first bill (S5737/A5342) would have subjected upstate transit providers to mandatory binding arbitration during contract disputes with their unionized employees. Even the measure’s Assembly sponsor couldn’t explain how the change would serve the public interest, and it would have opened the floodgates to other unions (including state government’s largest bargaining units) seeking the same privilege.

As explained in this space last month:

If this bill is signed, upstate transit authorities will have a harder time getting their unions to agree to changes needed to meet changing ridership patterns and technologies. If employers demand concessions, unions can respond (after perfunctory stalling) by pursuing raises through arbitration.

Binding arbitration is bad policy because it vests decision-making in unaccountable panelists instead of executives who ultimately answer to elected officials. For transit authorities, it’s an especially bad fit because their revenues come mainly from public subsidies, which are outside their control, or the fare box, where hikes result in fewer people being able to access service. 

The governor made a similar point in his veto message:

Binding arbitration undermines the public’s employers [sic] bargaining ability, which ultimately drives up labor costs and hurts New York State taxpayers. Unnecessarily ceding a final decision over compensation and benefits to a third party will result in a loss of oversight and control for all involved parties.

The second bill (S6048/A5459) is a perennial priority for the Public Employee Federation, a union representing about 52,000 state employees primarily in white-collar, professional titles. Since 2012, PEF has pushed to inhibit the state government’s hiring of outside contractors by requiring state agencies to first demonstrate that they couldn’t perform work using state employees. The goal is to provide more work for government employees who belong to or could be signed up for the union.

Cuomo in his veto message said the bill is “duplicative of current practice,” since state Finance Law already requires agencies to justify their use of outside contractors. Governors already have an interest in keeping costs down, and contractors that aren’t bound by PEF’s 247-page contract have greater flexibility to deliver services.

This is the third time Cuomo has rejected attempts by PEF and the Legislature to discourage him and future governors from using outside contractors. But now that the Janus v. AFSCME ruling has given state workers a choice of whether to pay dues or fees to unions, PEF can be expected to keep pushing such legislation.

PEF’s card-carrying membership was 50,374 as of the end of November, down from 51,992 at the end of November 2017 (when people were still forced to pay). The figure is likely to keep falling as retiring members are replaced by people who choose not to join.

Another 165 bills are awaiting the governor’s signature or veto.

About the Author

Ken Girardin

Ken Girardin is the Empire Center’s Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Read more by Ken Girardin

You may also like

How Are the Billions in Emergency Aid to New York Being Spent?

A new  posted yesterday on the Comptroller’s website could become the lens through which New Yorkers see how tens of billions of dollars in one-shot federal funding is being spent by governm Read More

Hochul’s Emergency Order Imposes Insurer Restrictions Sought by Hospital Group

Buried in Governor Hochul's emergency order on health-care staffing is a temporary bar against insurance companies challenging claims submitted by hospitals–and an influential hospital association is taking credit. Read More

Home Care Agencies Project Widespread Staffing Shortages in the Next Phase of New York’s Vaccine Mandate

Agencies providing home-based care to elderly and disabled New Yorkers face a large-scale loss of employees when the next phase of the state's vaccine mandate takes effect on Oct. 7, according to a newly released industry s Read More

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

As leaves turn, NY’s post-pandemic recovery still has very far to go

Entering the second autumn since the COVID-19 outbreak of March 2020, the pace of New York State's pandemic economic recovery has been abysmal by almost any standard. New York was the national epicenter of the pandemic, and Governor Cuomo's "" business Read More

More NY job gains in August—but employment needs to rise a lot further

New York's jobs report for August looked relatively strong—but only by comparison, that is, with . On a seasonally adjusted basis, New York gained 28,000 private-sector jobs last month—a growth rate of 0.4 percent, according to . This was double th Read More

Projected PIT Haul Brightens State Budget Office’s Fiscal Forecast 

Stronger than expected tax payments this spring led the Governor’s Division of the Budget (DOB) to increase its personal income tax (PIT) revenue projections for the next four years by $8.5 billion above its April pr Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!