The SAANYS Model for Labor Services: Protection for an Effective Career

Since the enactment of the Taylor Law, SAANYS has strived to meet the demands of its approximate 7,000 members in the ever-changing world of public education they live in.  Over the past six years we have seen paradigm shifts in public employment in New York caused by the Great Recession, the enactment of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), and the Property Tax Cap. SAANYS offers a wide array of legal and negotiations services to combat the erosion of hard-earned benefits and the ever-increasing demands placed on members’ time and lives. To that end, this article will review the legal and negotiations services available to SAANYS members.

SAANYS prides itself on being aggressive in protecting the legal rights of its members. Currently, SAANYS has five full-time attorneys on staff who provide excellent assistance to clients. Any SAANYS member can call an attorney directly to answer their particular legal questions. The inquiries run the gamut from retirement questions, to confronting teacher surveys, parent issues, or a micro-managing board of education or superintendent. Every client also has unlimited access to an on-call attorney, 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the SAANYS pager system.

Over the years SAANYS has developed an aggressive reputation in defending members, particularly those accused of misconduct in 3020-a proceedings or license revocation hearings. In addition, SAANYS represents members in contract arbitrations, PERB cases, Commissioner’s Appeals, and in a variety of court actions.

To better serve the needs of our members, SAANYS retains the services of law firms around the state. Currently, SAANYS has regional counsel in Suffolk County, Nassau County, Syracuse, Ithaca, Albany, and Buffalo.  Combined, these firms have over 75 attorneys.  These law firms have expertise in labor and employment law, education law, litigation, tax law, corporate law, and provide expert legal and negotiation services to many members.  Lawyers in these firms are sometimes called to represent our members who are abruptly told the night before to appear early the next morning for an interrogation.  SAANYS is committed to providing excellent legal representation and the relationship between SAANYS and several of these law firms has been on-going for over fifteen years. A SAANYS membership provides the best insurance policy possible for administrators.

Negotiations services are equally critical to the success of your professional organization.  SAANYS provides members with an array of negotiations services from which to choose. The services SAANYS offers include: research of comparable districts, health care data analysis, drafting proposals, consultation, and/or at the table negotiations. SAANYS uses a team approach. Thus, a unit has the choice of having a trained labor relations specialist/negotiator AND/OR an attorney to assist, if the selection is entirely the unit’s to make. SAANYS representatives will participate in person in all preparation meetings, caucuses, and analysis of research results and proposals, all without limitation. SAANYS does not restrict representation to either electronic contact only or a limited number of meetings. It is not uncommon to see both a labor relations specialist/negotiator and an attorney negotiating a collective bargaining agreement for a unit.

SAANYS currently has 25 labor relations specialists/negotiators working with members. These individuals are highly trained in collective bargaining and are up-to-date on tax law ramifications, pension issues, health care changes (especially in the area of retirement benefits) and deferred compensation. Many of these professionals have extensive experience in public education. These individuals have faced many of the same challenges that administrators today are facing. As such, they can, and often do, articulate at the bargaining table along with an attorney how the professional demands of the job take a toll on administrators’ quality of life of in advocating for higher salaries and benefits. This team approach has been especially effective in the negotiation of APPR plans, where SAANYS has negotiated the best measures for the negotiable sub-components to ensure that our members achieve appropriate ratings.

SAANYS continues to be the leader in representing administrators in New York because of the quality of legal and negotiations service it provides. Members should be comforted by the fact that SAANYS will expend whatever resources necessary to protect members’ jobs and advocate for the best salary and benefits available.