New York residents may have heard that according to a recent Gallup poll, 64% of Americans approve of unions, which is a 16% increase from 2009. In 2018, employees of 20 major companies went on strike, and that was the highest figure since 2007. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicated that 485,000 workers were involved in the protests that involved both corporations and school districts. In 2019, teachers from the Chicago public school district went on strike to protest their current working conditions.
As New York union members likely know, auto workers have gone on strike across the country against General Motors. This is the first strike in the industry in over a decade, and workers at 31 factories and 21 other GM facilities are participating in the action. The walkout marks the largest strike in the country since the last GM worker action in 2007. Union workers declared their plans to strike in a press conference on Sept. 15, saying that they are seeking higher wages and improved profit-sharing.
The founder of a New York-based pop culture and sports blog recently took to Twitter to threaten workers who are thinking about forming a union. In the Aug. 13 tweet, David Portnoy said that any workers who asked for advice about organizing would be fired on the spot. The brash entrepreneur has been a harsh critic of unions in the past and it is not clear if his tweet was intended to be taken seriously, but that did not stop lawmakers, state officials and union representatives from reacting angrily to it.
The Department of Labor has proposed some changes to apprenticeship rules as part of creating apprenticeship programs that are regulated by industry, but some New York labor unions are speaking out against the proposal. On Aug. 5, Rep. Anthony Brindisi and labor leaders in Binghamton announced their opposition.
Farmworkers in New York have won an important victory in an appellate court, upholding their right to form unions. The Appellate Division of the state's Supreme Court ruled that farmworkers, like all other workers in New York, have the right to unionize, rejecting an exemption in state law that excluded agricultural employees from collective bargaining rights. The court ruled that this exemption was unconstitutional. Workers' rights advocates hailed the decision, saying that it was critical to protecting farmworkers' rights and dignity on the job.
After New York raised the minimum wage at the start of the year, the city's residents noticed a change in something else: the price of food. Unfortunately, servers who expected to be paid more are now being let go.
Fans of the Amazon series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" might be interested in learning that the production company behind the show, Picrow Streaming, is facing a labor complaint. The complaint was filed by IATSE Local 52 in New York over some allegedly unfair labor practices during the production of the show.
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.
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.
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.