Unions Face Serious Trouble July 18, 2018
As the result of a recent United States Supreme Court decision, public employee unions across the country are in danger of disappearing altogether, and workers may face serious health and safety risks. Called the Janus decision, the ruling is likely to leave working individuals without numerous protections that Union representation provided them.
How do Unions Help Workers?
At Galfand Berger, our attorneys have been defending the rights, health, and safety of union workers since the firm’s inception. Unions like the United Steelworkers (or USW) fight for the just and fair treatment of working individuals; in fact, the very first unions in this country shared several of the exact same goals – and still do to this very day.
Unions mediate issues between workers and their employers. They also aim to secure better working conditions like higher wages, improved safety systems that guard against preventable injuries, fair and reasonable working hours, and they also give individuals the chance to speak out against workplace injustices.
Members of public employee unions may work as:
- Government employees, like federal, state and local level workers;
- Military and police personnel;
- Public educators;
- Healthcare workers, and:
- Public transit and infrastructure (e.g. bridge builders, bus drivers, utility workers, and many more) employees
Some other common ways that unions advocate for their members are:
- Getting workers guaranteed pensions that will last them well into their retirement,
- Fighting for adequate healthcare coverage and fair health benefits, and:
- Constructing collective bargaining units, which give workers more power to leverage their interests to employers
Who Can be in a Union and How are They Started?
Today, more than one-third of the public American workforce is unionized. Workers create unions by banding together and achieving voluntary recognition as such from their employer. Once that happens and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) certifies a group of workers, their union status is official. Employers are required to abide by certain codes and standards when it comes to how they bargain with union members and union representatives in the workplace.
How the Janus Decision Could Affect You
The Janus decision could hurt workers in many ways, and advocates across the country fear that the Court’s ruling puts a major crack in public union’s armor. It will limit the total financial funds that unions receive, which in turn will directly affect their ability to advocate for union members.
Union benefits help workers all the time, like when they get injured on the job, are discriminated against or harassed, need better safety equipment or performance-based raises, as well as in countless other situations. Limiting union resources could change the dynamic between workers and their employers, and lessen just how much each individual’s voice is heard. It could also leave far too many workers without critical health services that their unions ensure, leaving them vulnerable to financial strain and ruin if they get injured in a workplace accident.
The president of AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – Lee Saunders, said that the Janus decision is: “yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor”. One of the Supreme Court justices who wrote the dissenting opinion (Justice Elena Kagan) said the relationship between public employees and employers is going to change. And, she said that it is rare for the court to overturn a decision that was in place to protect workers for so long.
How to Stay Updated on Union News
The attorneys at Galfand Berger are proud to defend and represent labor unions and the principles for which they stand. In light of the Janus decision, it is perhaps more crucial now than any time in recent legal history to stand up for worker’s rights. We will continue to update our readers on union news, but if you have any legal questions or concerns you should contact a representative at our firm who can assist you.
Philadelphia Labor Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP
If you were injured at work or have questions or concerns about your rights in the workplace, please contact the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.