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Abstract

The duty of fair representation in labor negotiations was born in Supreme Court case law to protect against racial discrimination and as a bastion of individuals’ interests during exclusive union representation in the collective bargaining process. The law later became as much a prescription for deference to unions as a protector from arbitrary union rule. As it currently stands, the law has become a minimal safeguard against wholly irrational and invidious union conduct far from the original guarantee of competent and committed union representation. Almost 25 years after the Supreme Court recognized a duty of fair representation in federal labor law, the New York legislature enacted the Taylor Law – officially the Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act. Since the adoption of the Taylor Act, the New York legislature and courts have incorporated the federal doctrine into the statute for use by New York’s public sector employees . This article outlines the development of the federal law and its incorporation into New York state law, concluding with a proposal to separate the two. The author proposes that New York law be based on the particularities of New York politics and policies rather than on Supreme Court considerations of federal private labor law.

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