The Duty of Fair Representation Under the Taylor Law: Supreme Court Development, New York State Adoption and a Call for Independence
26 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2008
The Supreme Court first recognized the duty of fair representation (DFR) in federal labor law in its 1944 decision in Steele v. Louisville & N.R.R. The case arose out of racial discrimination in employment and union representation. It resulted in the Court imposing a duty upon unions to represent all members of a bargaining unit competently, fairly and equally. Subsequently, that duty was incorporated into New York State's public sector labor law, the Taylor Law, which was originally enacted in 1967.
By the 1990's, the Supreme Court had substantially diluted the federal DFR so that it seemed only to preclude union conduct that was wholly irrational or arbitrary in the representation of its members. Around the same time, however, New York's Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) - the administrative tribunal established under the Taylor Law - gave every indication of enforcing a duty that provided some real protection. The state courts, however, were more ambivalent and the case law was unsettled. Professor Bonventre traces the history and case law of the DFR under both federal labor law and New York's Taylor Law. He argues for an independent treatment of DFR by PERB and the New York courts to insure meaningful protection for state employees.
Keywords: Duty of Fair Representation, Taylor Law, Public Employment Relations Board, PERB, public sector labor law, state labor law, New York labor law, union duty
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