© 2003 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
In June 1806, the legislature of the State of New York enacted legislation, chapter 410 of the Laws of the State of New York,
to provide for the amicable adjustment of grievances and disputes that may arise between employers and employees, and to authorize
the creation of a State Board of Arbitration. In March 1887, the legislature enacted legislation, chapter 63, of the Laws
of the State of New York, to provide for the amicable adjustment of grievances and disputes that may arise between employers
and employees, and to authorize the creation of a State Board of Mediation and Arbitration.
Since then, there have been surprisingly few major changes in the actual procedures of mediating and arbitrating labor disputes,
although the form of the agency has undergone several transformations. The present Board was established in 1937 by act of
the legislature. The provisions of the act constitute article 21 of the Labor Law of New York State. Section 750 sets forth
the purpose and function of the Board of Mediation in a "declaration of policy." This section also establishes the Board and
provides for a membership of seven persons to be appointed by the Governor by and with the advice of the Senate. The Board
shall be within the Department of Labor. Section 752 defines the Board's objective as to "take such steps as will most effectively
and expeditiously carry out the policy declared in Section 750." Section 753 delineates the powers and duties of the Board.
It provides that upon its own motion, in an existing, imminent or threatened labor dispute, the Board may,
and, upon the direction of the Governor, the board must take such steps as it may deem expedient to effect and
voluntary amicable and expeditious adjustment and settlement of the differences and issues between employer and employees
which have precipitated or culminated in or threat to precipitate or culminate in such labor disputes.
In 1941, article 22 was added to the Labor Laws of New York State. It provides for the creation of a Board of Inquiry by the
Industrial Commissioner in the event the mediation Board certifies to him that it has been unsuccessful in its attempts to
effect and voluntary settlement of a dispute.
In terms of the functional pyramid, the open of the Board's formal organization is composed of seven Board members, appointed
by the Governor. Beneath them, and appointed by the Board are two administrative offices, the Executive Secretary, and his
assistant. They are charged with the responsibility of supervising day-to-day functions and meeting the numerous operating
problems. A third appointee of the Board is the Counsel, who gives legal advice and assistance to the Board's members administrative
officers are "four supervising labor mediators, one each located in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and Syracuse. They are
in charge of a staff of full time labor mediators distributed according to the needs of the agency among the four offices,
and stenographer and clerks. There are 12 full time mediators employed by the Board; 2 in Buffalo, 1 in Syracuse, 3 in Albany,
and 6 in New York City. In addition, panel lists of 100 persons are available to the Board for use in the
designation of arbitrators.
The Board and its personnel intervene in labor disputes at the request of the parties or on its own motion to assist them
in minimizing economic losses arising from threatened by industrial disputes, and in improving the relations between employer
and unions. These services take the form of either mediation or voluntary arbitration.
Mediation Cases are classified as follows:
a. Not contrary to agreement. This means an actual cessation of work not expressly prohibited by agreement.
b. Contrary to agreement. An actual cessation of work prohibited by agreement.
No Work Stoppage
a. Authorization for Strike. The union has specifically-authorized a strike.
b. Threat of Strike. When there exists a strike threat although a strike was not specifically authorized.
c. No Stoppage Threatened. Where there is no actual cessation of work, no authorization or threat of strike (i.e. an agreement
not to strike or to arbitrate if mediation flails.)
Arbitration Cases arise when:
a. Dispute arises over the initial contract; or
b. Over the renewal of a contract, or
c. During the life of the contract.
The State mediators cooperate with other agencies in a number of critical or protracted disputes, for example, representatives
of the New York State Board of Mediation in some instances joined with Federal or New York City mediators in intensive mediation
efforts. The Board of Mediation also drafts the services of individual within communities to supplement the efforts of Board
personnel. The New York State Board of Mediation has been frequently designated as the arbitrating authority in collective
bargaining contracts by agreement between the parties.
Although the staff mediators have the official title of mediators, they are also required to be qualified as arbitrators.
They are the basic resource for the unique service of free arbitration furnished by the State.
The law establishes the Board of Mediation in the Department of Labor. At the head of this department is the Industrial Commissioner.
Since 1902, the body designated to mediate and arbitrate labor disputes has been under the supervision of the Industrial Commissioner.
Between 1886 and 1902 it was independent. The relationship is more one of partnership and cooperation than subordination,
for the Board's responsibility is directly to the Governor and tangentially to the Industrial Commissioner.
The records of the New York State Board of Mediation are compiled in boxes, each box containing the record of one year. When
an application is made to the Board either by the employer or the labor organization or by both, requesting the assistance
of the board either by way of mediation, arbitration or otherwise, in an effort to resolve a current labor dispute, a file
is made and all materials concerning this dispute are contained in this file.
For purposes of convenience and in an attempt to save time and money, a survey was made of the record for the years, 1938,
1945, 1949, 1952 and 1962. These years were chosen for the following reasons:
1. Several disputes arose as to the employer's quantum/ of contribution to the union's welfare, health and security plans
and the union Insurance funds.
2. Several disputes arose out of the alleged union's rights to compel the employers to dismiss employees who have not or are
not members of the union in good standing.
3. Unlike the 1938 and to a lesser extent the 1945 period, the vast majority of matters submitted to arbitration were determined
by the arbitrator. There were no amicable settlements of the issues.
1. This period continued in roughly the same way as that of 1949 with no departure that is of any real significance to note.
1. Employers secured the right to lay off employees if business should fail and several disputes arose as to whether business
had failed or not.
2. The question of seniority ratings was also disputed on several occasions.
3. Apart from these areas the basic questions as before remained.
As explained earlier, these cases that have been examined and made the subject matter of this report are only random samples
picked from various periods. A complete list of all cases is available for a comprehensive study.