Q: In NY State, in the public sector unionized workplaces, how do the parties (workers and employers) enforce their rights?
A: This is a very broad question that can be answered in many ways, but broadly in New York there is legislation (the Taylor Law) that sets up a system of procedures and protections for public sector employers and employees. Under this system, employees have to serve a probationary period after they are hired, but after that probationary period, most employees are protected by "just cause" job protections. That is, the employer must have an objectively good reason to terminate an employee, which must be based on good evidence. Employee discipline can be challenged in a grievance procedure, which ultimately leads to an arbitration procedure before a neutral party (not a government official). Most employees in government service are in a union, which bargains with the state employer for pay and benefits. If bargaining is unsuccessful, the parties can refer the issues to an administrative judge who decides the disputed issues. In exchange for public employers agreeing to bargain with the unions, public unions by law are not allowed to strike.
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