New York Labor Law Blog

A labor law firm can help with union elections and oversight

New York City unions are meant to protect the interests of its members and maximize what they get in terms of wages, benefits and more from their employer. Few consider the myriad issues that arise within the union and can cause problems for union members. When there are problems or concerns within the union, it is important to have a law firm that is experienced in representing the labor union and protecting the interests of the members.

Union officers are elected to represent the interests of the rank and file members. This process is sacrosanct and should be something that the union members can count on as a fair process. However, there are frequently internal struggles as to how the election will proceed. Also problematic is if there is an individual or governmental challenge to how a union goes about its business in this regard. A law firm that has skill and a history of counseling labor unions so the obligations under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMDRA) are met is essential to a fair process.

U.S. Supreme Court decision affects public labor union fees

For unions in New York City and across the United States, it is important to keep a close eye on how changes to labor law and union requirements will affect them. Since there has been an ongoing debate about how public sector unions collect membership dues, a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court clarifies this issue and is expected to make things tougher for unions. According to the Court, unions can no longer collect union fees from workers who are not members. This was an important part of the unions' ability to afford collective bargaining.

With changes like these taking place and others possible, all unions - public and private - must make certain they are protected by an experienced law firm who understands how to address these changes. New York is one of 22 states that allows unions to charge fees to non-members. Even non-union members who refused to contribute derived benefit from these negotiations. An estimated 5 million workers might be affected by this decision. The remainder of the states in the union are "right to work" states, meaning the fee collecting practices could not take place and collective bargaining was not allowed.

Key points about collective bargaining in New York

Unions are in place so workers in New York and across the nation have some level of bargaining power and the ability to band together to come to an agreement with their employer. A key part of that is collective bargaining. With collective bargaining, the workers gather and negotiate with management to improve their conditions on the job. The main goal of collective bargaining is to address concerns and issues at work. This can involve wages, vacations, how discipline is handled, promotions, raises and more.

The National Labor Relations Act covers legal issues for unions. The National Labor Relations Board is tasked with handling any dispute between labor and management that becomes a legal matter. If there are violations, the NLRB will enforce them. There is a "good faith" rule for collective bargaining. With this, there are certain things that the sides should do to adhere to it. Failure to meet with the other party; adjusting the terms of an agreement without telling the other party; and failing to be aboveboard when negotiating are all examples of ignoring good faith collective bargaining.

New York teachers gain parental leave

After literally years of negotiation and demands, New York City’s teachers are going to have six weeks of paid parental leave. The policy was announced on June 20 by Mayor de Blasio.

This benefit, while common in many other trades and part of many collective bargaining agreements, has always been fought by the city as being “too expensive.” That will end this September when the new policy takes effect.

UPS union members agree to allow a strike, if necessary

Delivery of packages is one of the most important and understated jobs in New York and across the nation. When the workers are union members seeking an improvement in employee benefits, there is a good chance that there will be the need for a strike. Employees should be cognizant of their right to seek a better contract and improved working conditions by becoming members of a labor union. A labor union must also have legal representation to protect its interests.

Employees of the United Parcel Service gave their union authorization to strike as a new contract is negotiated. This would be the first time in more than two decades that UPS workers would have a job action of this kind. The authorization of the strike is not necessarily an indicator that the members plan to take this action but that they will have increased leverage as they negotiate a new contract. The current contract expires at the end of July.

Staff members at New Yorker magazine join labor union

It might come as a surprise to many that some New York workers are not part of a union or even considered "employees." The circumstances of the terms of employment and employee classification can be important as that often dictates the employee benefits available to them. When there is a classification of workers that they deem unfair or compensation and benefits are not what they believe they should be, joining a labor union is one strategy to rectify these issues. Having legal assistance from a law firm that specializes in union representation is an integral factor to unionizing.

Members of the editorial staff at the New Yorker magazine decided to form a union. According to their statement, the staff members assert that the lack of job security, no overtime pay, and an inconsistent method of compensation are the reasons for the decision. Numerous workers were not considered employees at the magazine. Instead, they were contractors who did not receive health coverage and other kinds of benefits despite having the same duties as those who were official employees.

NYC corrections department union members unhappy about transfer

Unions are necessary for many workers in New York City, but it is exceedingly important for those who do the most dangerous jobs to have union protection. Specifically, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders fall into that category. Also in that category are the most overlooked of people in law enforcement: New York City corrections officers. While their union can provide them with various benefits, such as retirement, sick days, off days and medical coverage, it also shields them and acts as their advocate.

A plan is underway to move teenagers who were held at Rikers Island to new detention facilities. Corrections officers will be stationed at these new locations. Corrections officers who were trained to deal with adult prisoners and the dangerous conditions at Rikers Island do not believe they are equipped to handle younger people.

Can flight attendants and crewmembers use FMLA?

New York is a transit hub and given the number of airports in the area, there are many airline employees who reside in the city. Those who are concerned about their employee benefits under the law should be aware that in certain circumstances, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will have different rules for some workers. One is for airline employees who work as flight crew members and flight attendants. While FMLA gives unpaid time off for medical reasons and for specific family members, it is important for these airline employees to know how the variances in coverage based on their occupation affects them.

Based on FMLA, a flight crewmember or flight attendant will be classified as a member of a flight crew. There is a requirement for service hours for the member of the flight crew to be eligible for FMLA. The crewmember or flight attendant will be eligible in the following circumstances: if he or she worked and was paid for a minimum of 60 percent of the applicable monthly guarantee; and he or she worked and was paid for a minimum of 504 hours. The monthly guarantee is based on the number of hours that the employer agreed to schedule the worker. This does not apply to workers on reserve status.

Improved employee benefits sought by graduate school workers

In New York City, unions are a key part of allowing all workers who are members get the maximum in wages and benefits. This is especially true for students who are also working at their university to make ends meet. It is easy for people to find themselves in situations where they might believe they are being taken advantage of. Even when they try to band together and join a union to improve labor relations, there can still be issues with their employer. It is in these circumstances that workers should seek legal assistance for their endeavors.

Graduate students who are also teachers at the New School in Manhattan are not considered employees at the school and do not get benefits or what they perceive is a living wage. 850 members of the union that represents students who work there - SENS-UAW - have gone on strike. The union has support from more than 300 of the school's faculty as they seek to shut the school down until their concerns are addressed. The graduate students who also work at the school are not treated as employees. This despite court rulings saying they should be treated as such.

Supreme Court rules against collective enforcement

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that workers do not have an inherent right to collective class-action suits when an employer routinely violates par, harassment, or other laws relating to working conditions.

This decision in the case Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis limits action by a union on behalf of workers. It is, however, limited to those who have signed away the right to class-action or union representation in favor of arbitration as part of the collective bargaining agreement.

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