New York Labor Law Blog

What is an impasse panel during collective bargaining?

New Yorkers who are public employees and union members and have experienced the difficulty with labor relations will inevitably understand that not all negotiations to improve work conditions and benefits will go as smoothly as they would like. Difficulty is frequently part of the process and if the sides cannot come to an agreement, the office of collective bargaining (OCB) will step in with assistance. One way in which they assist is with impasse panels. Understanding the basics of what impasse panels do is key when a union is about to be part of that process with the employer. As always, legal help is critical for the union to be adequately prepared and protected.

The OCB has impasse panel members. These individuals are approved by a majority on the collective bargaining board. There will be a city member and labor member. When the public employer and a union have done everything possible to come to an agreement after collective bargaining negotiations and the proper conditions are in place to use an impasse panel, then the panel will be appointed. There does not need to have been mediation for this to take place. Both parties are also allowed to request there be an impasse panel. The parties will be given a list of candidates and their preferences will be submitted. The parties can also name a consultant to the impasse panel.

Steamfitters question NYCHA plan for mold abatement

The key to fixing mold in buildings run by the New York City Housing Authority isn't just to replace sheetrock. Leaky pipes need to be fixed too, according to a white paper issued in late November by the Enterprise Association of Steamfitters Local 638.

The union says mold abatement can be achieved in one series of moves. Avoiding the issue of leaky pipes means the mold will simply return, they say.

Labor union expresses concern over Amazon coming to New York

New York workers who are seeking good jobs at competitive wages might think that large, prominent companies coming to the city is a good thing. Often, it is. However, before becoming too excited over the prospect of a healthy job market and the benefits it brings, unions are apt to express concern over how these companies conduct themselves. It is frequently on the backs of workers with controversy in its wake. For workers, having the backing of a labor union is a critical aspect of ensuring these companies do not attempt to take advantage of them, using their enthusiasm against them. Union representation is not the only thing necessary to help workers. The support of a law firm that specializes in union matters is also key.

Amazon has made headlines with its decision to open a new tech center in Long Island City. However, given its reputation with its employees, this has led to concern from unions representing a large swath of workers in the city. The company is saying that up to 25,000 jobs will be open. According to the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), the company's past stance in hindering unions and how it has allegedly mistreated employees in other locations is worrisome. The president of the union says that the company pressured workers not to join or form a union. It wants state representatives to make sure this will not continue once the company sets up shop in New York.

Grad student teachers and researchers' labor union will negotiate

In New York, there are so many kinds of workers and jobs that it can become confusing as to whether they have the right to join a labor union and negotiate for a better collective bargaining agreement or nor. Workers who are functioning as employees while they focus on other endeavors are not at the mercy of their employer and expected to be satisfied with whatever terms of employment and employee benefits the employer chooses to give them. Labor law grants rights to employees and they should be prepared to unionize or join a current union to maximize their benefits and compensation. A law firm that specializes in unions is critical to this.

There has been an ongoing dispute between graduate student teachers and research assistants at New York's Columbia University as to their rights to form a union. In the past, the school was unwilling to let them form a union. Now, however, the school has changed its tune and expressing a willingness to bargain if there are certain foundational agreements in place. The president of the school and its provost issued a statement mandating that the negotiations must begin in February 2019. The students are represented by the United Auto Workers. UAW is required to ratify its agreement.

Understanding labor law and economic strikers

News stories about workers having a strike are everywhere in New York and across the U.S. Strikes are a critical negotiating tool when dealing with complex collective bargaining issues. For those who are confronted with the need to stage a walkout and seek better pay, benefits and more, it is important to understand what the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says about the legality of organizing a strike. As with any issue related to labor law, having help from a law firm that specializes in helping unions is key.

Strikes are protected in "concerted activities" of employees as part of collective bargaining. There is a right for workers to strike, but there are limits on why they can strike. A strike being lawful might hinge on why the workers are striking in the first place, when the strike is taking place, and the way the strikers are behaving. It can be complicated to gauge the reason why the strike is taking place. Frequently, the NLRB will need to decide on this. When it is a strike for a lawful object, they can be economic strikers and strikers based on unfair labor practices. In general, if the strike is due to unfair labor practice, the workers will have more rights to be reinstated to their jobs.

Public school teachers in NYC vote to ratify new contract

Union-represented teachers in New York City voted to move forward with a contract that will increase pay and devote resources to improving needy schools.

Members of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) showed their support for a new contract with the city of New York this week by voting overwhelmingly to ratify the agreement that was reached last month.

UPS union members who work in freight authorize strike

New Yorkers who are in a union or is seeking to join one should keep an eye on how employers treat employees during these collective bargaining sessions. Not only can it impact daily lives -- especially if it is a prominent company -- but it can provide a roadmap as to how labor relations should be handled. Union members or prospective union members should keep track of these situations and, of course, have legal assistance with their own case.

Negotiations between the union representing UPS freight workers and the company are ongoing for a new contract, but it has informed freight customers that alternatives should be in place if there is a work stoppage. There is already authorization for a strike if workers vote to reject the new contract offer. UPS is represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. For its part, the company believes the offer should be agreed to with improvements to wages and benefits. There will be a stop on pickups of large and heavy items and the freight network will be emptied so there will not be disruptions as the negotiations continue and the decision upon whether to agree to the contract or not is made.

What are employers not allowed to do regarding a labor union?

New York unions and their employers can engage in disputes over many issues. Even in circumstances where there is a solid relationship, it can quickly degenerate into a contentious back and forth if there are disagreements from either perspective. This is especially true when it comes to employers trying to use coercive tactics with employees. Some employers might try to influence the labor union in this way. Union members must be cognizant of what the law says about such acts and respond accordingly. Having legal assistance from a qualified union law firm can be useful in this or any other labor law case.

Employees are legally allowed to unionize to improve their circumstances in myriad ways. They are also allowed to decide not to unionize. Some employers might not want to deal with a unionized workforce and attempt to dissuade employees from taking part. There are many strategies that the employer might deploy toward this end and they often violate the law. Knowing what they cannot do is key to stopping it. The employer is not allowed to demote, dismiss, worsen conditions at the workplace, or issue threats because of a worker trying to use the National Labor Relations Act to his or her advantage. That includes complaining to the National Labor Relations Board.

How does NLRA labor law protect my union-based employee rights?

Union members in New York could be unaware of exactly what their rights are in relation to dealing with employers. Being unionized is beneficial to workers in many industries as it provides them with bargaining power and certain protections under the law. There are certain rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when dealing with employers and alternatives if these are violated. Knowing employee rights under the law is critical when seeking to maximize benefits and compensation.

Workers have the right to create a union when there is not one in place, to decertify the union if they no longer believe it is working in the employees' best interests, and to exercise all their rights based on the law. For example, if employees want to form a union in the workplace or try to form a union in their workplace, they are legally allowed to do so. Even if the union has not been recognized by the employer, the employees have the right to join. When the union is being organized, employees have the right to help toward that end. Workers can refuse to take part in these union activities if they do not want to. And the employees are entitled to receive fair union representation.

Collective bargaining rights of federal employees upheld

Back in May, the President signed three executive orders that undermined the protections of unionized federal agency employees. So, can the President control or undermine the collective bargaining rights of federal employees? The executive orders were challenged in court, and in August, a federal judge ruled in favor of the employees.

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