New York Labor Law Blog

How can you enforce your rights under U.S. labor law?

Workers in New York and across the U.S. have always been vulnerable to the whims of ownership and management. Union representation has provided layers of protection to workers to keep them from being underpaid, overworked, deprived of rights they are legally entitled to and much more. However, there are still times when employers will try to stop workers from exercising certain rights or will violate those rights. Unions themselves sometimes commit violations. It is in these situations that workers need to be aware of how the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, can help.

If there is a belief that an individual's rights or the rights of others were violated, it is wise to contact the NLRB. This is a strategy to protect those rights. It must be done within six months of the unlawful activity having occurred. It is not necessary for a worker to go to the union to contact the NLRB, nor does the employee need to go to the employer or anyone else. There are also times when the union is not living up to its mandate. This too is a justifiable reason to contact the NLRB.

Injunction sought by UFT after union members fired from school

Even unions that are perceived to be exceedingly strong need to have legal representation to ensure that their rights are adhered to. Some of the more powerful unions in New York include law enforcement and teachers. When there is a dispute over some issue related to labor law, the National Labor Relations Board is available to help those who believe there has been a violation committed against union members. This is especially important when there are dismissals that are deemed to have been unjust and violated the contract.

An injunction is being sought by the United Federation of Teachers through the NLRB due to a Bronx charter school firing 11 of 15 employees who are members of the UFT. Included in the dismissals are the bargaining committee simultaneous to a first contract being negotiated. The president of the UFT claims that the dismissals were an act of hypocrisy. The school's intent is to teach law and social justice and the firings are said to be diametrically opposed to that because of the teachers' attempts to negotiate.

Union owns shares in Chicago newspaper

Chicago’s Sun-Times newspaper has new ownership, which includes a local labor group. In a purchase completed last month, labor joined with other investors to keep a controversial publishing company from taking over the Windy City’s second largest newspaper, which was established following a merger in 1948.

Former politician Edwin Eisendrath spearheaded the purchase campaign, joining forces with labor leader Jorge Ramirez. Ramirez represents the Chicago Federation of Labor, an umbrella organization of 320 area unions.

Legal assistance is key for collective bargaining in New York

Even New York State workers who are part of a union and the union itself will need to be protected when contract negotiations are underway. Union representation is a vital part of workers being treated fairly and protected, but if there are mistakes made when negotiations are taking place, it can undo all the hard work that was done in formulating the union in the first place.

Regardless of the job whether it is white collar or blue collar, everyone needs legal assistance with negotiations. Union leaders might be experienced negotiators and know exactly what they and their workers want, but when it comes to legal matters, expertise is key. There are numerous issues that come up when a deal is being collectively bargained. Included are the Taylor Law, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, and the Labor Relations Act among many others.

What information am I entitled to with ERISA?

For many workers in New York, there are a multitude of benefits that they are not completely certain or informed about. Workers have the right to request and receive information about plans they are involved in as part of their employee benefits package. One is ERISA - the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. For workers who are having an issue regarding ERISA or are not getting information they have requested, it is important to know their rights.

ERISA plan administrators must provide those taking part in the plan with facts they need about their benefits. This includes health and retirement, rules of the plan, financial information, and documents as to how the plan is managed. Some must be given to workers on a regular basis and done so automatically. Others should be provided upon request. Workers do not have to pay for this information or for copying fees.

Important points about COBRA in New York

One of the most important benefits that an employee can have when working is health coverage. The ongoing debate in government as to how health benefits will be dealt with hammers home the point as to how much of a hot button issue this is. Union members should be aware of certain aspects of their rights under labor law when it comes to health coverage. One such aspect is the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1986, known under the acronym "COBRA."

COBRA is a law that lets those who leave a job retain their health insurance. For those who have left a job with a group health plan, it is possible to retain coverage through COBRA by paying for the insurance. This program is available for individuals and families who will lose their health coverage they had received through work. There are several reasons why a person might lose their health insurance coverage including: being dismissed from the job, leaving the job, being laid off from the job, a covered employee dying, a reduction in hours, and divorce.

Is a pro-union environment growing in the fast food industry?

Fast food employees in New York City will soon see a change in how they are scheduled. A new law, supported by local labor unions, requires employers to make employee schedules sooner and pay them for last minute changes, according to Reuters. The change is part of a larger shift in wage and lifestyle protections for low-wage workers.

What are the specifics of the law?

Agricultural workers seek to receive labor law protection

There are certain types of jobs in which employers assert that it is all-but impossible to allow their workers to unionize. With these jobs, there are frequently abuses perpetrated against these workers and they are a violation of labor law whether the workers have unionized or not. Often, the workers will try to form a labor union to be granted the rights and protections they otherwise might not get. Workers who are seeking these rights should discuss their case with an experienced labor attorney.

Farmworkers in New York have filed a lawsuit to have the right to organize as a unit. The case was spurred by a 22-year-old man who claims to have endured numerous abuses and injustices in his time working on a farm milking cows. He worked 12 straight hours, did not have breaks, did not receive treatment for an injury, and had to pay for the proper gloves to do the work in a safe manner. He was dismissed from the job when he tried to organize his fellow workers with meetings.

What if my employer requires medical certification for FMLA?

In New York, employee rights and benefits workers are supposed to receive under labor law is a common cause for dispute. There could be a variety of reasons for this. In some instances, the employer wants to make it as difficult as possible for an employee to use such benefits as the Family and Medical Leave Act. Regardless of the reason, an employer has the right to requests that an employee provide medical certification as to the reason for the absence. It is important to know what the law says about medical certification in the event the employer does not provide the benefits after the request for information was followed.

The employee must provide the medical certification within 15 days after it has been requested by the employer. The employee bears the responsibility for the cost of getting the certification from a health care provider and to ensure that it has been given to the employer. The failure to provide the information might result in FMLA request being denied.

Vincent F. Pitta honored by the New York Board of Rabbis

Being recognized for your accomplishments and contributions is a very honorable experience. Such an occasion occurred recently, recognizing Vincent F. Pitta, who is the founding and managing partner of Pitta, LLP. This law firm is recognized for providing legal advocacy for labor union members in the state of New York. And for his notable work and contributions to society and the legal community, Vincent F. Pitta was honored at the New York Board of Rabbis.

The New York Board of Rabbis has been a notable organization for 136 years, shaping the future of the Jewish life in the state of New York, educating rabbis and responding to the ongoing and changing needs of the Jewish community across the state. To date, the New York board of Rabbis is the largest rabbinic inter-denominational body across the globe.

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