New York Labor Law Blog

New York prepares for potential changes to U.S. labor law

Unions are an essential part of helping New York workers be treated fairly in a many ways. While employers and unions are often adversarial, it is in the best interests of both sides to find common ground. For union representation and union members, it is also important to keep track of changes to the law that influences them. A pending case that is set to be heard by the Supreme Court can impact their work and the relationship between unions and members.

New legislation was signed by New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo to allow unions to be shielded from giving full benefits to union members who have not paid their dues or union fees. This was done because of a case heading to the Supreme Court in which a worker is seeking to challenge the need to pay certain fees to a union. Once the decision is made, it may no longer be legal for unions to collect fees from employees who choose not to join a union. Should the union lose the Supreme Court case, New York unions can limit how much protection it provides to workers who do not pay fees.

Construction trades get tough with developers

You don’t have to look hard in the city to see that development is booming. That is especially true for multi-million dollar luxury high rises in Manhattan. But more and more, skilled trades are being squeezed out by unqualified non-union workers.

The battle has heated up in courts and even subway ads as developers continue to squeeze working people and their families for an extra buck. But the building trades are fighting back hard. A rally against Related Companies was just the most public part of the fight.

Upstate New York nurses seek to form labor union

In New York, unions are relatively prominent because workers in so many industries rely on them to get their deserved wages and benefits. An understated aspect of unions is when workers would like to form one at their workplace and there are a variety of strategies used by their employer to prevent it. These workers should be cognizant of the need to have a legal advice for their endeavors whether they are already unionized or are seeking to form a union. That union representation is essential and should not be ignored.

Nurses at an upstate medical center had initially tried to form a union 15 years ago, but failed. That was their third attempt, falling short by 253 votes. The numbers were similar the prior two times. Now, as time has passed, they have increased the number of nurses who are eligible to vote on unionizing by one-thousand. The nurses have decided to try to unionize again. They spent approximately three years organizing and will soon take another vote. They want to join the New York State Nurses Association - an entity that represents around 40,000.

Understanding who can get continuing coverage via COBRA

For New York union members who are facing the prospect of needing to get healthcare in the interim when there will be an interruption should know about the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). COBRA can be an essential benefit. However, many people might not know who is eligible to receive COBRA. Knowing who is entitled is the first step toward using it. If there are issues with eligibility and those who should be eligible are not being given the right to COBRA, it might be necessary to have legal assistance.

With COBRA, the group health plan must have been covered by it; there must have been a qualifying event; and the person must be a qualified beneficiary. For an employee to be eligible for COBRA, he or she must have been employed at a private sector job or a state or local government job that sponsored the plan. There must have been a minimum of 20 employees for more than half of the business's typical days of work. All employees - full and part-time - are counted in determining if COBRA is applicable.

NYPD union plans to seek contract arbitration proceedings

In New York, unions are a critical part of ensuring that workers receive all the benefits they are entitled. That includes health care, a fair wage, coverage if there are injuries on the job, retirement benefits and much more. This can be problematic if there is an employer who is seeking to save money or deprive workers of their rights under labor law. When issues arise, there are certain steps that a union can take, such as grievance mediation, arbitration proceedings and other strategies related to collective bargaining. Having a law firm that is experienced in union representation is essential in these and other matters related to labor law.

Across the state, emergency responders and law enforcement are some of the most important workers for keeping people safe. While their presence is expected as part of the landscape, there have been numerous historical instances in which contract problems have arisen.

MTA union members face sanction after safety complaints

In New York City, transit workers are an essential part of daily life, even if few commuters notice their importance. In addition to playing a key role in keeping the city running smoothly, these workers are subject to various dangers while on the job. If there are clear dangers and workers, speak up about it, it is expected that the MTA will take their concerns seriously and take steps to address them. If they do not, it is up to the union to protect its union members. Having a law firm that is well-versed in helping a labor union is foundational.

Four workers on a Brooklyn track crew say they made complaints about work conditions. After they complained, they were told to go home. They are seeking back pay, even as three of the workers' jobs are in jeopardy. One worker, a 32-year-old veteran on the job, stated that he saw a safety violation and reported it. As a result, he and his team members were penalized.

Vast construction project sparks accusations against labor union

In New York City, where there are constantly major construction projects taking place, it is natural that there will be disagreements between companies and the unions representing workers who are handling the project. Cost is a constant worry for these projects and companies, concerned about the bottom line, will take steps and make allegations asserting that a labor union or more than one labor union are trying to take advantage by inflating costs. It is these types of disagreements that make it even more imperative that unions are protected by a law firm that is experienced in union representation.

A labor organization is facing a lawsuit because of allegations that some unions inflated hours its workers worked. There are other accusations of corruption against the unions. The project - Hudson Yards on the West Side of Manhattan - is worth $25 billion. The claim says that the unions overcharged by more than $100 million. The company is building what is referred to as the largest real estate project in the history of the U.S. It filed its case against the organization saying that it included corrupt unions in the contract negotiations.

Janus v. AFSCME Council 31

The Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments on February 26, 2018 for Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.  It is one of the most critical cases regarding unions and their ability to represent workers in a long time. It will be decided by this summer, but it is important to stay on top of the news and understand what it means for collective bargaining across the nation.

Pitta Law Firm has studied this carefully as it worked its way through the legal system and provided information for trades here in New York. We feel it is important that everyone stay informed and understand this case, however it is decided.

Union members need legal help when employers file for bankruptcy

New Yorkers who are in a union and believe they have a secure job and are safe in their future employment will often be shocked to learn that their employer is experiencing financial problems. They will face fear and worry if those financial problems extend to the degree that the employer needs to file for bankruptcy or is dealing with litigation related to those financial struggles. Unions must make certain that they protect their interests in this situation by contacting a law firm that is experienced in union representation.

The reality of the job being eliminated because of financial issues with the employer is just one aspect that union members should be concerned about. Other issues such as their labor contracts no longer being in effect, health insurance disappearing, and their pension being eliminated are very real. Lawyers who know the problems a labor union can have under the shadow of a bankruptcy and other litigation can be of great assistance to sift through the contracts, examine what the employer is going through and take the necessary steps to protect the members.

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