A manager and two employees who worked for Spot Coffee in Upstate New York were reportedly terminated for trying to join a union. The employees were terminated for organizing a meeting while the manager was terminated for refusing to tell the company who attended it. A state lawmaker has called for a boycott of the company and said that unions were an important part of America.
On the afternoon of June 17, BuzzFeed journalists in New York and three other cities stopped work to protest the company's slow response to employees' votes to unionize. The vote in February came after the company laid off dozens of employees. Each side accuses the other of stalling the process.
Collective bargaining can be an important part of ensuring and improving healthcare benefits for workers in New York. This is one reason why a bill being considered by the state legislator exempted collectively bargained changes from a regulation that would prevent insurance companies from changing their prescription formularies during a plan year. These formularies lay out which medications are covered and the out-of-pocket costs that go along with them under a specific insurance plan. The bill aims to stop insurance companies from suddenly ending coverage for or changing the price of a specific medication in the middle of the year when members are already locked into their plans.
Many New York workers have the right to form or participate in a union. They are designed to protect the rights of its members, and collective bargaining is governed by the National Labor Relations Act. The unions themselves are overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Working conditions are determined by the terms of deals bargained between the labor union and management. Those terms are what each side will turn to first for guidance if a dispute arises.
The transit workers' union representing conductors and other Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers is urging increased protections for staff after a conductor was stabbed unexpectedly while on a subway platform in the Bronx. The New York City transit worker declined attention when contacted by local media, saying that he just wanted to rest and recover. The man was released from the hospital on Apr. 22 after receiving treatment for his injuries.
When two companies share control over a worker, they are considered joint employers. The Department of Labor is proposing new rules to determine if joint employer status is proper. To determine if this is the case, New York companies would have to answer a series of questions. Among those questions is who has the right to hire or terminate an employee and who pays the employee and when.
The majority of employees at the publications Pitchfork and Ars Technica have voted to authorize union membership and join the NewsGuild of New York. Condé Nast owns both publications, and a spokesperson from the media company said that management would evaluate the demands for union recognition.
The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC) reached an agreement with Related Cos., a major city developer. The agreement could lead to improved labor relations at work sites managed by the development company. Over the years, the BCTC and local labor unions have challenged Related's alleged union-busting practices and violations of the National Labor Relations Act. There has been a significant amount of litigation between the parties in the past as well as an ongoing media and public campaign that has included protests at construction sites.
While many have warned of the detrimental effects of one U.S. Supreme Court decision undermining union rights, labor organizing in New York has continued to remain strong. Janus v. AFSCME, decided in June 2018, undermined the ability of public sector unions to assess fees from non-members of the union to cover the cost of collective bargaining for the entire group of workers. In the past, these non-members had to pay an agency fee to contribute to the costs of bargaining. The decision was widely interpreted as a conservative attempt to reduce the ability of public sector workers to organize, defend their rights and speak collectively.
Following a round of layoffs, employees of the digital media company Buzzfeed are working to establish a union with NewsGuide of New York. More than 200 people were let go from the company in January. In doing so, Buzzfeed joined several other digital media companies, including HuffPost, AOL and Yahoo, that have laid off workers. Buzzfeed's CEO said the layoffs were necessary despite the company's revenue growth.