New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations v. New York State Public Employment Relations Bd.

Decision Date08 July 1975
Citation37 N.Y.2d 752,374 N.Y.S.2d 625
Parties, 337 N.E.2d 136, 90 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2463, 80 Lab.Cas. P 53,937 In the Matter of the NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS et al., Respondents, v. NEW YORK STATE PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD et al., Appellants.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

Martin L. Barr, Albany, for New York State Public Employment Relations Bd., Appellant.

Adrian P. Burke, Corp. Counsel (Milton H. Harris and L. Kevin Sheridan, New York City, of counsel), for City of New York, appellant.

Emanuel Dannett and Robert M. Schanzer, New York City, for Richard M. Brower, appellant.

Louis Lauer and Sol Neil Corbin, New York City, for New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, respondent.

Joan Stern Kiok, Julius Topol and Stephen C. Vladeck, New York City, for David Beasley and others, respondents.

Norbert M. Phillipps and Robert T. Snyder, New York City, for New York State Labor Relations Bd., amicus curiae.

MEMORANDUM.

Judgment of the Appellate Division affirmed, without costs, on the opinion of Mr. Justice George Tilzer at the Appellate Division with one modification and the following comment. It is not necessary to determine, and it should not be determined at this time in this case, whether the so-called Taylor Law (Civil Service Law, art. 14) is intended to cover only 'those employees excluded from the jurisdiction of the Labor Relations Act', although that may well be the effect of the several applicable statutes. It is enough that the New York Public Library is not a public employer, joint or otherwise, within the terms or effect of the Taylor Law. The short of it is that the instant public library employment satisfies in some respects the character of public employment and in other substantial respects does not, and that the Taylor Law applies only to employment which is unequivocally or substantially public. As Mr. Justice Tilzer's opinion demonstrates the nonpublic aspect of library employment is sufficiently substantial to exclude it from regulation under the Taylor Law, as it now reads.

FUCHSBERG, Judge (dissenting).

I must respectfully disagree with the majority's conclusions, for I believe they fail to take account of the central issue in this case. The problem before us is not merely whether the New York Public Library is a sufficiently public entity to be labeled a 'public employer' or even whether, in the abstract, the statutory authorization permitting the Public Employment Relations Board (P.E.R.B.) to denominate certain employers as 'joint employers' (Civil Service Law, § 201, subd. 6, par. (b)) covers such an amalgamati of the City of New York and the library as was attempted here. As I see it, the real problem arises out of a jurisdictional battle between two governmental agencies, P.E.R.B. and the New York State Labor Relations Board (S.L.R.B.), each charged with regulation of labor relations within the State. And the question we ought to address is whether, given the extensive involvement of the city in the labor relations of the library, it is appropriate to permit the S.L.R.B. to retain jurisdiction over the latter's labor relations, thereby, in effect, authorizing the S.L.R.B. to direct and supervise the city's participation in library employee relations. Even more substantively, is it appropriate to provide library employees all advantages and disadvantages of government employment but exempt them from the system of labor relations designed for such employment? I conclude that it is not.

The question was initially raised when Richard M. Brower, a library employee, asked P.E.R.B. to declare the 'agency shop' agreement between the library and its union, District Council 37, unenforceable, agency shops being permissible under the aegis of the S.L.R.B., but not under the provisions of the Taylor Law (Civil Service Law, art. 14). After initially rejecting the complaint on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction, after hearing a petition from the city that its decision be reconsidered, P.E.R.B., which may only make such a determination upon application by a 'government' (§ 201, subd. 6, par. (b)), found the city to be a joint employer with the library and that it, therefore, did have jurisdiction.

In making that determination, P.E.R.B. was authorized by statute, as follows: '(b) Upon the application of any government, the board may determine that the applicant shall be deemed to be a joint public employer of public employees in an employer-employee negotiating unit determined pursuant to section two hundred seven of this chapter when such determination would best effectuate the purposes of this chapter.' (§ 201, subd. 6, par. (b).)

Though, as the facts show, the city in fact overwhelmingly controlled the library's labor relations, it is to be noted that a 'government' is not required to be a sole but merely a 'joint' public employer, that there is no restriction on whether the 'employer-employee negotiating unit' is to be governmental or nongovernmental in character, and that a wide interpretive discretion is reposed in P.E.R.B. by empowering it to decide what 'determination would best effectuate the purposes' of the statute.

Before applying these provisions, it is useful to note the special relationship existing between the city and the library which, when brought to its attention by the city, P.E.R.B. had to recognize. It starts from the history of the library's inception as an entity.

By a series of legislative enactments, three separate private trusts established to provide library services to the City of New York for the free use of all its people were incorporated; the enactments authorized the trusts to accept bequests from John Jacob Astor, James Lenox, and Samuel J. Tilden. The 'New York Free Circulating Library', an entity of the city itself, was also established by statute, and, at a later date, again by statute, all were merged into one. Under that law, the city was authorized to erect the main library building and to enter into agreement with the library permitting its use and occupation for as long as was free. The same agreement also provided that the city should supply funds for its maintenance and operation. And New York City's Mayor was granted the power to appoint and remove the library's trustees. Thereafter, Andrew Carnegie's offer to pay for the erection of branch libraries led to further legislation authorizing the city to acquire library sites by gift, purchase or condemnation and to maintain the buildings after their construction; that legislation also provided that 'amounts required for such maintenance shall constitute a city charge to be provided for in the annual budget and tax levy of said city.' (L.1901, ch. 580, § 3.)

The city and the library entered into the arrangement permitted by the legislation. It is the foundation of their relationship today. Even as viewed by its creators, the relationship is at least a joint one, envisioning mutual responsibilities, public benefits, and great dependency on city tax levies. That dependency now results in the city providing some 80% Of the library's operating costs. Most of the books are owned by the city; most of the employees' salaries, the largest budget item, are paid by it. Of the remaining 20% Of operating funds, the bulk are State and Federal, not private.

In applying for city funds, the library is subject to the same controls applicable to conventional city departments. It must supply performance standards to justify the number of employee hours for which it seeks reimbursement. It submits its budget through the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and defends it, in the same fashion as are other city budget items, at hearings before the city budget director. During that process, budget cuts are imposed on the library as on other agencies and they directly affect employee levels and salaries.

Perhaps even more precisely pertinent to this case, the union to which the library's employees belong bargains directly with the city. The library, although the provisions of its original agreements with the city theoretically leave managerial decisions in its hands, does not even...

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