Counsel's Office has several functions. The Associate Counsel serves as the office director, assisted currently by one full-time staff attorney and one full-time principal stenographer. Counsel's primary responsibility is to represent PERB before federal and state courts pursuant to §205.4(a) of the Act. Litigation most often involves a CPLR Article 78 proceeding in which Counsel's Office defends a Board determination and order rendered in a representation or improper practice case. An aggrieved party may file an Article 78 petition for review of a final order within 30 days after service of a copy of the order on that party by registered or certified mail. The office appeals from adverse decisions as necessary and appropriate. On notice from a charging party, the office will investigate whether a respondent has failed to comply fully with a PERB order. If the investigation finds noncompliance, Counsel's Office intervenes to obtain compliance either informally or by a petition for enforcement of the order brought in State Supreme Court. If a respondent continues to fail to comply after the court enforces the order, Counsel's Office petitions the court to hold the respondent in contempt.
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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.