Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Monday, March 19, 2001

Release #087-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel / Michael Anton
(212) 788-2958


The next two bills before me today are Introductory Numbers 640 and 641, sponsored by Council Member McCaffrey and several of his colleagues. Both of these bills would amend the City's Collective Bargaining Law, in relation to collective bargaining involving the uniformed forces in the City of New York. Intro. No. 640 would grant uniformed status to fire alarm dispatchers and supervisors of fire alarm dispatchers. Intro. No. 641 would grant uniformed status to emergency medical technicians, known as EMTs, advanced emergency medical technicians, known as paramedics, and supervisors of EMTs and paramedics.

The enactment of these bills in the absence of an agreement negotiated by the executive branch with the unions is illegal because it would usurp the collective bargaining role of the Mayor under the State Taylor Law and the New York City Charter. The power to negotiate collective bargaining agreements under the Taylor Law and Charter clearly rests with the Mayor and not the City Council. The Council may only enact legislation when it is necessary to implement changes agreed upon through bargaining.

The Collective Bargaining Law that the Council seeks to amend through this legislation was itself only enacted after a bargaining process. That bargaining process led to the "Tripartite Agreement," signed by the Mayor's Office, the leaders of the major City employee organizations, and certain neutral parties on March 31, 1966. Over the last thirty years, every significant amendment to the City's Collective Bargaining Law enacted by the Council has resulted from the work of the Tripartite Committee, comprised of representatives of the Mayor, the unions, and the City's neutral Office of Collective Bargaining. These parties engaged in extensive discussions and compromises before presenting their legislative proposals to the Council. By contrast, the process followed by the Council regarding Intro. Nos. 640 and 641 is a major, and I believe illegal, departure from this past practice.

Legislatively granting uniformed status to fire alarm dispatchers and EMTs and their supervisors could also create a disparity between their contractual benefits and those of other civilian employees who may be similarly situated. These bills could lead the City down a slippery slope of legislative action granting benefits to City employees that have not been bargained for, a dangerous scenario that would compromise the collective bargaining process. The City Council, in passing these bills, has not examined many of the critical issues surrounding the creation of additional bargaining units, such as the potential cost to the City.

There is no doubt about the hard work and dedicated service that so many EMTs and fire alarm dispatchers provide for New Yorkers. But these bills are simply the wrong way to achieve uniformed status for these employees. The City Collective Bargaining Law already provides a process they may use when they seek to attain uniformed status. Intro. Nos. 640 and 641 reflect no effort on the part of the affected employees to use the lawful procedures already available to them to bargain for the uniformed status that these bills would provide.

In the end, Intro. Nos. 640 and 641 are illegal, inappropriate, and unfair to both the uniformed services that gained their status through bargaining, and to other civilian employees who may also be trying to obtain enhanced benefits through the bargaining process.

For the reasons previously stated, I will now veto both bills.

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