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How do ERISA laws affect collective bargaining agreements?

| Oct 28, 2020 | Employee Benefits/erisa |

Unions provide workers in New York and New Jersey with many protections and rights in the workplace that they may not have if they worked for a private business without a labor union. However, unions need to make sure that the collective bargaining agreements they negotiate and agree to are legally sound and cover all necessary bases. The following is an overview of one area of law unions in private businesses should include in their collective bargaining agreements: ERISA laws.

What is ERISA?

The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 is a set of federal labor laws applicable to certain private employers. ERISA states what the minimum standards for pensions, health care benefits and other welfare benefits, as well as life insurance policies, disability insurance and apprenticeships offered in the workplace. While ERISA does not mandate that employers offer these benefits, it does regulate these benefits if they are included in a collective bargaining agreement.

What can be included in a collective bargaining agreement under ERISA?

ERISA can regulate fiduciaries. It can also include provisions regarding the reporting of violations to the federal government. ERISA also dictates that employers make certain disclosures to employees that clearly state what benefits are included in the collective bargaining agreement. Under ERISA, written collective bargaining agreements can contain provisions establishing how claims can be filed and what will be done if a claim is denied. Finally, ERISA laws ensure that benefits under collective bargaining agreements are protected and are in the workers’ best interests.

Unions can seek help to better understand ERISA laws

Unions in the collective bargaining process will want to make sure they have a solid understanding of ERISA laws, so they can better advocate for the workers’ interests. This post does not contain legal advice for unions, so unions in New York and New Jersey who have questions about ERISA may want to seek professional guidance before moving forward.