Politics As Usual
- is it -
? Cooperation or Exploitation?

Abuse Of Power

Rigging the System

Politics As Usual = Exploitation

Triborough Amendment:

The Triborough amendment guarantees seniority “step” increases in pay even after a labor contract has expired. Above all, they must include fundamental reform of public pensions, which are about to skyrocket to levels never before seen in New York.

The Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law requires that the provisions of existing or expired contracts remain in effect while new contracts are negotiated. This means that employees will continue to receive “step” increases based on longevity during contract negotiations. Since a single step can translate into a 3 percent raise, even base pay "freezes" don't halt growth in payroll expenses. Thanks to Triborough, unions find it easier to sit on their contracts and resist meaningful concessions in skyrocketing fringe-benefit costs.

The Triborough Amendment is rooted in a 1972 labor board ruling in a contract dispute involving Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority toll collectors. That case gave rise to a rule known as the Triborough Doctrine, which held that the core terms and conditions in an expired contract must stay in effect until a new contract is negotiated. In 1977, the doctrine was modified by the State Court of Appeals to exclude step increases.

The Triborough Amendment gives public employees an incentive to hold out when management is seeking contract concessions. As one state worker put it when his union was asked to ratify contract givebacks in 2011: “We have Triborough ... why do this to yourself?”

Triborough’s toll on New York taxpayers is significant. For the state government alone, pay hikes guaranteed by the Triborough Amendment have cost $140 million a year, even after Governor Andrew Cuomo negotiated a wage “freeze” with state unions. Similar increases for teachers cost New York City $150 million a year and added $93 million to school budgets elsewhere in the state.

These figures only tell part of the story. Since the Triborough Amendment makes it easier for unions to resist proposals for more significant and lasting changes to work rules, staffing requirements and fringe benefit cost-sharing arrangements, the full cost impact of the provision is incalculable.


Opponents of the Triborough Amendment argue that, under the law, public employee unions have little incentive to negotiate because, even if contract negotiations remain at impasse for several years, their members will continue to receive annual step raises. This is a problem for public employers who will see their salary costs continue to rise even after a contract has expired. The New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) estimates that this provision costs school districts as much as $93.5 million a year.

Broadalbin-Perth will be negotiating a new contract with its teachers’ union this school year. If the school district and union are not able to reach an agreement by June 30, the provisions of the Triborough Amendment would kick in, meaning B-P would pay approximately $225,000 in step increases from the expired contract during the 2012-13 school year.


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Libertarian Party

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