Counsel's Office The Office of Counsel's primary responsibility is to represent PERB in judicial and administrative proceedings as authorized by §205.4(a) of the Act. Litigation usually involves the defense of Board orders in CPLR Article 78 proceedings brought by aggrieved parties under § 213 of the Act. Additionally, on notice from a charging party, the office investigates whether a respondent has complied with a PERB order. If informal efforts to obtain compliance fail, the Office of Counsel will petition for enforcement of the order in Supreme Court. The office also reviews applications for injunctive relief under § 209-a.4 of the Act. If the Office of Counsel determines that injunctive relief is warranted, it will petition in Supreme Court for the appropriate injunction, or it will authorize the charging party to file the petition, in which event PERB is a "necessary party." Although now a rarity, the Office of Counsel prosecutes unions that engage in unlawful strikes. Where a strike charge is filed by the employer, the Office of Counsel intervenes in the proceeding to ensure a satisfactory result. Finally, as requested by the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, or Executive Director, the General Counsel provides legal advice regarding matters affecting PERB's operations.
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Counsel's Office also investigates and prosecutes before PERB charges against unions involving the strike prohibition under §210 of the Act. If, after investigation, there is a reasonable basis to believe that a strike has occurred in violation of the Act, Counsel's Office is authorized to initiate and prosecute a strike charge before PERB, as is the public employer involved.
The Office of the Counsel is responsible for administering the Injunctive Relief provisions of the statute on behalf of the Board. Applications to obtain injunctive relief pending a decision on the merits of an improper practice charge must be filed with Counsel. A charging party must separately file the charge with the Office of Public Employment Practices and Representation. Counsel's Office reviews the application for injunctive relief to determine if the charging party has made a sufficient showing that an improper practice has occurred and that immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage will occur, and that meaningful relief cannot later be provided unless a court issues an injunction to restore or maintain the status quo. If the charging party makes a sufficient showing, the office will petition for an injunction in State Supreme Court or will authorize the charging party to do so.
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Sections 206 and 212 of the Act authorize local governments to create local procedures that establish local boards called "mini-PERBs" to handle certain of their own labor relations matters. The local mini-PERBs have jurisdiction similar to PERB's except as to the handling of improper practice charges. The New York City Board of Collective Bargaining, however, has improper practice jurisdiction. Counsel's Office is responsible for ensuring that the practices and procedures of these local agencies are substantially equivalent to PERB's. There are currently mini-PERB's in the Town of Hempstead and Suffolk County.
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Counsel's Office prepares and disseminates formal advisory legal opinions for representatives of state agencies, local government, employee organizations, and other interested persons. The office also informally responds to persons who have inquiries regarding specific caselaw and general questions concerning the Act.
As the attorneys for the Board, Counsel's Office assists in the drafting or interpretation of proposed legislation or administrative regulations, the preparation of memoranda to the Governor's Counsel or legislative committees, and may represent the Board in meetings or conferences with state officials, public employers, unions and members of the public.