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.
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.