Thingish Things

Triborough Toll

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Oct• 06•11


I used to fall for a talking point New York union bosses use all the time in newspaper quotes. Former United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Randy Weingarten used to say it all the time, as did her predecessor Sandra Feldman. Today I read it in a quote from Westchester Corrections Superior Officers Union boss Robert Buckley. 

“We are working without a contract,” they say indignantly, implying that their rank-and-file workers are somehow cheated out of job security. That quote used to soften any animus I might have harbored against the union boss being interviewed.   Those mean bastards, I would think of the government negotiators. At least sit down with these guys.

That was a long, long time ago — before I learned about the great public employee union sham in New York State called the Triborough Amendment.

I’ve written about Triborough before, but it bears revisiting. It is the law that keeps the provisions of existing public employee union contracts in place — including step pay increases — until a new contract is signed. It is the law that has begun bankrupting municipalities throughout New York. 

Think about what that does. It takes every incentive away from the union bosses to negotiate in good faith. They can logically let contracts expire — losing nothing for their employees, complain to the public that they are working “without a contract” and then hold out for a better deal. Is it any wonder New York is broke, indeed, billions of dollars in debt for public employee pension costs?

The union bosses are not wrong to hold out for the best deal for their employees. It’s their job to do that. But Triborough has stacked the deck in their favor and against New York taxpayers.  They cannot lose the hands they are dealt, and the politicians in Albany funded by the unions will never let the cards be reshuffled.

In Westchester County the average union employee is now making, with benefits, more than $112,000 a year. The average employee. Yet some of them are working “without a contract.”

I don’t mean to sound like a hard-ass, and I have nothing against individual union employees trying to do the best they can, but cry me a river.  

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