If you can read this in English you should thank the

soldiers that defended you and the teachers that taught you.


New York’s “Triborough Amendment”, enacted in 1982, mandates that public employee union contracts must remain in effect even after the contract actually expires.    As a result, public employees are entitled to their usual perks, including automatic salary increases and fringe benefits, regardless of changing fiscal conditions or changing local priorities and regardless of an expired contract.  Obviously, the Triborough Amendment creates a disincentive for teachers and other public employees to accept terms and conditions less costly than those allowed in their previous contract and it drastically hampers the employer, i.e. the taxpayer, to effectively negotiate changes in response to a depressed economy.  Recently, the impact of the Triborough Amendment was illustrated when Governor Cuomo’s attempt to negotiate a less costly contract with a public employee union initially failed.  In the words of one union member, “We have the Triborough Amendment- why do this to yourself?”

When teachers and other public employees complain they are working without a contract, they simply mean that they have not gotten an increase in their automatic increase, aka, step.   They mean, on average, their annual salary increased only 2% instead of the usual 6%.  This explains how the so called “salary freezes” negotiated by some school districts did not lower costs, but increased State costs by $140 million.  In addition, the Amendment adds almost $300 million a year to school budgets across the State and these figures are only part of the story.  Since the Triborough Amendment makes it easier for unions to resist proposals for more significant and lasting changes to work rules, staffing requirements and fringe benefits, the full cost of the Amendment is incalculable, as is its affect on student education.

Governor Cuomo’s two percent cap on county, municipal, school and special district property tax levies makes the case for repealing the Triborough Amendment.  In order to live within the cap without disrupting public services, local governments and school districts need greater flexibility to restrain automatic pay increase and to restructure the most costly aspects of their collective bargaining agreements.

As expected, Unions have fiercely fought any attempt to repeal the Triborough Amendment, frequently asserting that the Triborough Amendment was a quid pro quo enacted to make up for outlawing  public sector strikes.  Not so!  It was President Reagan’s’ 1981 dismissal and replacement of striking air traffic controllers and a prolonged economic boom that swelled government tax coffers that enabled local governments to appease unions which led to a decrease in public sector strikes. 

Furthermore, when the Triborough Amendment is repealed, it would be replaced with an earlier version, the Triborough Doctrine, which would preserve major elements of public sector contracts, but at the same time, would give employers the ability to truly freeze employee wage increases in the absence of a new contract.  The result would restore true collective bargaining to a system that now extends it to unions but denies collective bargaining to the taxpayer.  New York State’s fiscal stability demands that Triborough be repealed, now.