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When Unions Passed On Gaining Right to Strike

Posted 11/8/19

Nationwide, strikes are back in the repertoire of unions. Last month, public-school teachers in Dedham, Massachusetts, went out on strike despite threats of injunctions and fines, defying their state’s anti-strike provisions. Meanwhile a few New York public-employee unions have begun discussing amending the Taylor Law. So it is worth examining a pertinent moment when New York State government almost restored the right to strike.

In 1977, then-Governor Hugh Carey proposed a package of Taylor Law revisions which offered virtually all unions relief from injunctions and penalties, while employers would have gained the right to unilaterally change contract terms at contract expiration. In effect, this deal would have made state labor relations more similar to bargaining in private industry. Offered an expanded ability to strike, the municipal unions instead opted for defensive stability.

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