New York Labor Law Blog

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.

Labor union for New York yellow bus workers authorizes strike

Certain jobs and workers are part of the New York City landscape. Every day, these workers and the vehicles and equipment they use are easily spotted. Yellow buses are an example of this. That could lead to an expectation that they will always be there and the idea that they do not face the issues that most workers do in getting improved employee benefits, being treated fairly and respected in their work. The truth is that all workers might be confronted with adversity as they negotiate the terms of employment, making a labor union critical to getting their maximum benefits and compensation. Having legal assistance with collective bargaining is imperative to their cause, no matter what kind of work they do.

How can a union protect you from workplace interrogation?

You’re sitting at your desk, minding your own business. Suddenly, your boss comes storming out of his office, fuming. The air in the room seems to stand still. He announces that there’s been a breach of confidence in the office, and he’s going to be questioning employees individually. One by one, he calls your coworkers into his office to take part in the investigation.

Regardless of whether you’re complicit in the violation or not, you’re probably nervous. You’re worried your boss might try to pin the offense on you, or that others may use you as a scapegoat. You could be concerned about the consequences of facing the investigative panel alone. Fortunately, if you’re a member of a union, you don’t have to.

Noted university researchers vote to join labor union

New York unions are often associated with people who are working in blue collar industries and join forces to prevent their employers exploiting them. Hard hats, picket signs and demands for better wages and benefits are the perceptions that appear in the minds of many as the words "labor union" and "collective bargaining" are said. However, any group of workers who seek an improved situation on the job can think about union representation. Since union members are in a stronger position to negotiate than individuals are, it is imperative to have legal help throughout the process - especially when deciding whether to join a union or not.

Researchers in the postdoctoral program at Columbia University in New York have unionized with United Automobile Workers (UAW). This is the first of its kind in the U.S. for a private university. 68 percent of the postdocs - of which there are more than 2,000 in total - voted to join. In turn, UAW stated that it wants a new contract for them. These individuals have gotten a Ph.D. and work on various projects for the school, many of whom are seeking to understand and find solutions for illnesses, conditions and global issues. The goal of the unionization is to improve their salaries to correlate with how much it costs to live in New York and to have better policies to address sexual harassment.

Understanding employee voting rights in New York

You can barely look up these days without seeing a political ad. The November 6 midterm election is quickly approaching, and get-out-the-vote efforts are in full swing. In New York, the polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Although you may be anxious to make your political voice heard on election day, you may also be worried about how getting to the polls will conflict with your day job. If you work a particularly long shift that day or face an especially long commute, finding time to cast your ballot before or after work could be tough. In case early voting or absentee voting aren’t options for you, the state of New York provides extra support to help employees make it to the polls.

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