Know your rights

The Public Employees Fair Employment Act, better known as the Taylor Law, is a comprehensive statute covering all public employees in New York State. It became effective in 1967 and grants public employees the right to organize and be represented by a union of their choice. It grants public employees protections when they are organizing for union representation.

It also requires public employers to negotiate with unions concerning the terms and conditions of employment and prohibits employers from engaging in harassment, intimidation, threats or retaliation against union supporters.

Charter schools are public schools and so employees of charter schools are covered by the Taylor Law, with all of its protections.

During an organizing campaign, you have a right to:

  1. Participate in meetings to discuss joining a union.
  2. Distribute, read and discuss union literature (in non-work areas during non-work hours, i.e. breaks and lunch periods).
  3. Wear union buttons, stickers, t-shirts and hats to show support for the union.
  4. Sign a union card and demand union recognition.
  5. Circulate and sign petitions or join together in other activities to protest unfair treatment or demand improvements in wages, hours and working conditions.
  6. Organize other employees to support the union and sign union cards.

During an organizing campaign, management may not:

  1. Threaten employees with loss of jobs or benefits if they join or vote for a union or engage in protected concerted activity.
  2. Ask you whether or not you have signed a union card, how you will vote in a union election or what happened at a union meeting.
  3. Tell you that existing benefits will be discontinued if you are unionized.
  4. Create working conditions intended to get rid of a union supporter.
  5. Discriminate against workers because of union sympathies or activities.
  6. Coerce you in an attempt to influence your vote.
  7. Engage in surveillance or spy on union gatherings.
  8. Promise employees promotions, raises or other benefits if they don’t join the union.

If you experience any of these violations, you should document the incident thoroughly and give the report to an organizing committee member or report it to UFT ACTS. If you are not sure if the incident violates the law, document it anyway.