Can a school district/municipal government suspend salary increments or step increases while operating under an expired contract? 

The Triborough Amendment of the Taylor Law dictates that all provisions of an expired agreement continue until the parties agree to a new agreement, making it illegal for the local government to refuse to continue the terms of an expired agreement while awaiting a new agreement to be negotiated. 

In practice, the Triborough Amendment means that any specific provision in the contract calling for salary increments or step advances remains effective even upon the expiration of the contract.  Clearly the Triborough Amendment provides no incentive to a union to negotiate a new contract if the economic climate would require concessions which would make a contract more affordable.  Therefore, it can be in the best interest of the union to operate under an expired agreement rather than risk a conversation about concessions in a new contract. 

Since personnel accounts for 70-80% of local government costs, salaries and benefits are the logical to make adjustments.  Knowing this, the unions are hesitant to negotiate when living under the protection of Triborough can provide salary increments or step advances.