Tagged: union contracts

Naomi McCoy On Understanding Your Rights When it Comes to Forming a Union

When Congress enacted The National Labor Relations Act in 1935, it granted employees the right to join or form a union and “engage in protected, concerted activities to address or improve working conditions.” Before the National Labor Relations Act, employers within the US were free to punish or fire groups seeking higher pay or better benefits. Naomi Soldon, of Soldon McCoy, a Wisconsin law firm with more than 75 years representing unions in different industries and professions, has throughout her career sought to educate the public on the intricacies of general labor laws. To better help groups looking to form a union, Naomi Soldon will discuss various union rights and ways employers frequently attempt to interfere with these groups. 

While employees looking to form a union are advised to read The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in its entirety, several sections can be prioritized over others. Section 7 of the NLRA discusses in detail the rights granted to employees within unions, such as “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist a labor organization, to bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Furthermore, section 7 also addresses the right of employees to “refrain from any and all activities.” In other words, an employee cannot legally be pressured by a coworker into joining or forming a labor union. However, it is far more common for employers to attempt to stop workers from union formation or other concerted and protected activities. 

According to Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA, “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7” are identified as unfair labor practices. It is common for employers looking to stop the formation or activities of a union to instruct managers to tell employees that there may be mass layoffs resulting from a union forming. Other tactics have included anti-union banners, video ads, and posters within the workplace, asking supervisors to discuss with each employee their views on unions, and requiring employees’ attendance at daily anti-union meetings. These actions are in direct violation of Section 8(a)(1) and should be immediately reported to the union organizing committee or a to other union representatives. 

It is essential that workers document any and all cases of employer interference and contact a labor attorney as soon as possible. 

Union Membership Dip is a Pandemic-Era Problem that could Persist, says Naomi Soldon

Naomi Soldon

Successful negotiation of union contracts is a major milestone for workers. Among other perks, these agreements ensure fair compensation and generous healthcare plans for the unionized employees. However, these contracts expire and a new bargaining process will commence to ensure continued coverage. Naomi Soldon, whose expertise is in labor relations law, as well as union/employer jointly trusteed health, welfare and pension funds, advises potential clients that heading to the bargaining table without expert legal representation is a fool’s errand. In the current climate, where employees are questioning companies over their response to the coronavirus, worker protections are more important than ever.

According to a November 2020 article from The Sacramento Bee, a decline in union membership among state workers in California has unfurled against the backdrop of COVID-19. Statistics showed that 69 percent of state employees there belonged to a union in February; it was down to 67 percent as of August and the “biggest factor in the slight decline appears to stem from a reduced rate of new employee sign-ups.” The report notes “momentous changes in working conditions, including risks of COVID-19 infection and rapid shifts to remote work.” The latter point is of interest to Naomi Soldon, who says the physical distance been workers can complicate the core component of belonging to a union: solidarity. “It’s sort of difficult to recruit new members on Zoom; you miss that person to person sort of connection,” an executive director of one union told the newspaper.

When a workforce makes an effort to unionize, the inevitable goal is to obtain better benefits and compensation. Employers generally accept these requests, but the back-and-forth in a legal setting to lock in union contract terms can be exhausting for all involved. Both workers and employers are wondering what healthcare plans will look like in a post-coronavirus world? Will employers still be generous with pension plans given the economic damage they’ve already suffered? These are huge issues for union members, who have families and futures to consider, and a veteran labor law layer can make all the difference when it comes time to nail down a new agreement.

When Naomi Soldon steps up to represent unions, she’s able to call on her trial and appellate court experience. As a 1990 graduate of University of Wisconsin Law School, Ms. Soldon has also been admitted to the United States Supreme Court and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Seventh Circuits. She has also been admitted to State Bar of Wisconsin as well as the District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin and Michigan.