Being a union member has advantages

Ask The Lawyer

By Bill Bransford

Being a union member has advantages

June 3rd, 2013 | Uncategorized

In theory, your rights as a union member should be the same as your rights if you are in a bargaining unit and not a union member. Being a union member means you pay dues. Nonmembers do not pay dues but are supposed to receive representation rights and other benefits related to the union being the exclusive representative of employees in the bargaining unit.

While federal-sector labor unions have an obligation to represent all employees in the bargaining unit fairly, dues-paying members are likely to be more knowledgeable about the union and how it works and are likely to receive services from the union with a smile and enthusiasm that may not necessarily be present if the union is representing someone who is not paying dues. One of the biggest advantages of being in a bargaining unit is a grievance procedure that includes the availability, at the union’s option, of having grievances resolved by an outside arbitrator. Because arbitration is expensive and because it  is difficult to challenge a union’s decision against arbitration, being a dues-paying member is a factor in your favor to obtain the arbitration option, if needed. Arbitration is widely viewed in the labor relations community as more favorable to employees than is the Merit Systems Protection Board. Continue reading “Being a union member has advantages”

Sequestration Update – What AFGE Local 704 Can Do

The threat of severe reductions in agencies’ budgets in January 2013 is real. Agencies that have been willing to comment on their plans have indicated that they will try to implement the cuts without eliminating occupied positions. However, furloughs of 10 to 40 days, or more are among the possibilities, depending on the agency. Locals and Councils should prepare for negotiating over procedures to be observed, as well as appropriate arrangements for adversely affected employees.

The first step is to check the current collective bargaining agreement. It will contain provisions that govern whether the union is permitted to demand negotiations during the life of the contract, and if so, how to make the demand. Some agreements specifically preserve the right of the union to demand bargaining in the event of an announced RIF or other change in conditions of employment. Others are largely silent in this regard and the union should interpret the contract in the most favorable light. A few contracts might contain waivers of the union’s rights to negotiate during the life of the agreement, thus seriously curtailing the union’s ability to address this event. Check the articles on mid-contract bargaining, adverse actions, reduction in force, and union rights.

A Furlough May Be a RIF or an Adverse Action

1. By regulation, furloughs of up to 30 days are considered to be adverse actions. Even though a furlough caused by budget cuts is not based on the employee’s own conduct or performance, adverse action procedures must be followed.

2. Furloughs of longer than 30 days are reduction in force actions, and RIF procedures must be observed. Since the term “day” in the RIF regulations refers to calendar days, the Office of Personnel Management has interpreted the regulation as requiring RIF procedures for a furlough of 22 or more work days, whether those days are consecutive or not. (This is very important in the context of sequestration).

3. The procedures for adverse actions and RIF differ in terms of length of notice, contents of a notice, and appeal rights.

4. RIF appeal rights are determined by the collective bargaining agreement.

5. If RIF actions are not specifically excluded from the scope of the grievance procedure, then the grievance procedure must be used, and employees could not appeal to the MSPB.

6. The union must ensure that the correct procedures are observed.

 

Court Strikes Down Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law

NPR

September 14, 2012;by Eyder Peralta

The controversial law that curbed the collective bargaining rights of public employees in Wisconsin has been struck down by Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas.

The law, if you remember, was championed by Gov. Scott Walker and it unleashed massive protests and even led to Democratic law makers to flee the state to forestall its passage. After it became law, union activists mobilized and triggered a recall vote, which Walker ultimately defeated.

The Associated Press reports:

“Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled Friday that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The ruling comes after a lawsuit brought by the Madison teachers union and a union for Milwaukee city employees.

“Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie says he is confident the decision will be overturned on appeal.

“It was not clear if the ruling means the law is immediately suspended. The law took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most workers and has been in effect for more than a year.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that this means municipal workers return to what was the status-quo before the law was passed. State employees still have to abide by the new law.

“The ruling means that, unless it is overturned on appeal, school districts and local officials will have to return to the bargaining table with their workers in a much more significant way,” the Sentinel reports.

Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law Struck Down By County Judge

Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law Struck Down By County Judge

By SCOTT BAUER 09/14/12 07:46 PM ET

 Wisconsin Collective Bargaining

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge on Friday struck down nearly all of the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

Walker’s administration immediately vowed to appeal, while unions, which have vigorously fought the law, declared victory. But what the ruling meant for existing public contracts was murky: Unions claimed the ruling meant they could negotiate again, but Walker could seek to keep the law in effect while the legal drama plays out.

The law, a crowning achievement for Walker that made him a national conservative star, took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most workers and has been in effect for more than a year. Continue reading “Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law Struck Down By County Judge”

Victory for Texas Nurses: More Than 1,500 RNs Win First Contracts

09/06/2012; Jackie Tortora Photo courtesy of National Nurses United (NNU).

In a major win for nurses, patients and three Texas communities, registered nurses (RNs) in El Paso, Corpus Christi and Brownsville gave final approval to contracts yesterday in first-ever collective bargaining agreements, reports National Nurses United (NNU).

The agreements improve working conditions for RNs, patient care standards and the quality of care at the four facilities. The contracts cover RNs at Corpus Christi Medical Center, two El Paso facilities (Las Palmas Medical Center and Del Sol Medical Center) and at the Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville. All are members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC)-Texas/NNU. Continue reading “Victory for Texas Nurses: More Than 1,500 RNs Win First Contracts”