ABOUT THE OCB
The New York City Office of Collective Bargaining ("OCB") and its constituent Boards, the Board of Collective Bargaining ("BCB") and the Board of Certification ("BOC"), were created by the New York City Council in 1967 through enactment of Chapter 54 of the City Charter. The OCB and its Boards are charged with administering and enforcing the provisions of the New York City Collective Bargaining Law, New York City Administrative Code, Title 12, Chapter 3 ("NYCCBL").
Enactment of the NYCCBL represented a commitment to the collective bargaining process by the City of New York and the municipal labor unions. The structure of OCB was uniquely designed to ensure impartiality in the resolution of labor disputes and acceptability to both labor and management.
OCB is an independent, impartial agency authorized, through its Boards, to resolve questions concerning union representation, issues concerning the collective bargaining process (including contract mediations and impasses), claims of improper labor practices (including discrimination based on union activity, refusal to bargain, and breach of the duty of fair representation), and the administration of the parties' contractual arbitration process.
How OCB Was Created
Structure of OCB and Its Boards
Public Employers Under OCB's Jurisdiction
Disputes Resolution Services
Who Serves as Mediators, Arbitrators, and Impasse Panel Members?
How Does OCB Differ From Other Government Agencies?
HOW OCB WAS CREATED
Prior to the simultaneous enactment of the Public Employees' Fair Employment Act, (the "Taylor Law") and the NYCCBL in 1967, there existed no comprehensive statutory framework governing the collective bargaining rights of public employees in New York State. However, collective bargaining between the City of New York and the municipal unions developed during the 1950s. Such bargaining was at first authorized and regulated by a series of Interim and Executive Orders issued by Mayor Robert Wagner. Questions of union representation, grievances and disputes over new contracts were handled by the New York City Department of Labor, an arm of the Office of the Mayor. In 1965, in reaction to a strike by welfare department employees, Mayor Wagner asked the Labor Management Institute of the American Arbitration Association to convene a committee consisting of representatives of municipal unions, the City, and impartial members representing the public, to discuss and develop recommendations for improving collective bargaining procedures in New York City. The committee created by the Labor Management Institute in response to this request became known as the Tripartite Committee. The impartial members of the Committee included labor experts Saul Wallen, Vern Countryman, Peter Seitz, and the Rev. Philip A. Carey. The Committee conducted discussions directed by Jesse Simons under the auspices of the American Arbitration Association. In 1966, the Tripartite Committee's mandate was confirmed by the newly-elected Mayor, John V. Lindsay. On March 31, 1966, the Committee members' efforts resulted in a written agreement between the unions and the city to set up an impartial, tripartite agency to serve as the neutral in the City's labor relations. This agreement formed the basis for the City Council's enactment of the NYCCBL in 1967. The City Council enacted Chapter 54 of the City Charter at the same time to create a new, independent and impartial agency, the OCB, to implement and administer the provisions of the NYCCBL.
The City Council's enactment of the NYCCBL was authorized by the "local option" set forth in § 212(2) of the Taylor Law. The Taylor Law, which also created the Public Employment Relations Board ("PERB"), is the state legislation which grants public employees the right to organize and to bargain collectively with their public employers.
PUBLIC EMPLOYERS UNDER OCB'S JURISDICTION
All municipal agencies – and their employees – are under the jurisdiction of OCB for purposes of the NYCCBL. A municipal agency is an administration, department, division, bureau, office, board, or commission, or other agency of the City the head of which has appointive powers and whose employees are paid in whole or in part from the City treasury. Mayoral agencies are part of the City's municipal agencies, and are all under the jurisdiction of the OCB. See NYCCBL §12-303 and 12-304.
The New York City Housing Authority, the Health and Hospitals Corporation,the Off-Track Betting Corporation, the Board of Elections, the Comptroller, the borough Presidents, the District Attorneys for each borough, and the Public Administrators for each borough are among those other public employers that are under the jurisdiction of the OCB. For a complete listing of the agencies under OCB's jurisdiction Click here. Pursuant to a 1998 amendment to the State Taylor Law, unions representing uniformed employees of the police and fire departments remain under OCB's jurisdiction for most purposes, but may elect to utilize the interest arbitration procedures of OCB's State counterpart, PERB, in the event they reach an impasse in negotiations.
Two major groups of public employees who work in New York City but are not employed by agencies under the jurisdiction of OCB are teachers employed by the Department of Education and transit workers employed by the NYC Transit Authority. Both of these groups fall under the jurisdiction of PERB.
DISPUTES RESOLUTION SERVICES
Since its inception in 1967, OCB had provided mediation and arbitration services to the City and the unions that represent municipal employees. OCB maintains and administers a register of neutrals that the parties utilize to resolve issues arising under the grievance-arbitration provisions of their collective bargaining agreements. In addition, the City and certain unions participate in an expedited arbitration procedure, which is overseen by the Deputy Director for Dispute Resolution, who also hears and decides many of the cases designated for expedited processing.
OCB provides formal mediation services to assist the parties in negotiations over terms for a collective bargaining agreement. In addition, mediation services are provided to parties requesting assistance to resolve improper practice claims, and grievances. OCB staff attempt to identify those improper practice petitions and requests for arbitration that may be appropriate for mediation and will ask the parties to consider mediation. Alternatively, any party can request mediation of an improper practice claim or grievance. The Deputy Director for Dispute Resolution is available to mediate upon request or can appoint another mediator from OCB’s register of neutrals.
WHO SERVES AS MEDIATORS, ARBITRATORS, AND IMPASSE PANEL MEMBERS?
The OCB maintains a register of impartial labor relations experts who are available to serve as mediators, arbitrators and impasse panel members. In order for an applicant to be added to the register of neutrals, that person's application and supporting documents must be approved by the City and Labor Members of the Board of Collective Bargaining. Almost all of the members of OCB's register of neutrals are also listed on the panels of other impartial labor relations organizations, such as the American Arbitration Association. A significant number also serve on the panels of OCB's State counterpart, PERB, and are members of the distinguished National Academy of Arbitrators.
HOW DOES OCB DIFFER FROM OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCIES?
A. The Mayor's Office of Labor Relations:
The Mayor's Office of Labor Relations ("OLR") is the municipal employer's representative at the bargaining table. Its negotiators, under the direction of City Commissioner of Labor, bargain with unions for terms of collective bargaining agreements. The OLR also acts as the management representative for City agencies in grievance and arbitration cases brought under the various collective bargaining agreements, as well as in representation, improper practice, and other cases brought before OCB's two Boards. The difference between the OCB and OLR is simply stated: OLR represents management, the employer, while OCB is the impartial independent agency whose statutory role is to assist the parties to resolve labor disputes, to foster good faith collective bargaining, and to resolve and remedy improper labor practices charges.
B. The State PERB:
The State PERB, created by the Taylor Law, performs substantially the same functions on a State-wide basis as OCB does in New York City. Section 212(2) of the Taylor Law specifically allows New York City to establish its own equivalent collective bargaining law (the NYCCBL) independent of PERB. Certain provisions of the State law, such as the strike prohibition, continue to apply to New York City and all other local governments. While the provisions of the NYCCBL are required to be, and are, substantially equivalent to the Taylor Law, there are certain differences. For example, the impasse procedures under the NYCCBL permit unions representing any bargaining unit of public employees to obtain binding interest arbitration, while the Taylor Law grants that right only to unions representing police and fire employees.
C. The National Labor Relations Board:
The National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") is the administrative agency responsible for administering a federal labor statute, the National Labor Relations Act, which covers private sector employees in almost all industries throughout the country. The National Labor Relations Act does not apply to the public sector employees of state and local governments, such as New York City. While there are certain similarities between the role of the NLRB in the private sector and that of OCB in the public sector, there are significant differences. For example, in improper practice cases under the NYCCBL (which are similar to unfair labor practice cases under the federal law) the OCB, unlike the NLRB, does not have an investigatory staff, nor does it have a prosecutorial function. In these cases, it is OCB's role to adjudicate charges, not prosecute them.