As new unions form and established professional employee associations navigate a changing legal landscape, experienced representation remains an important asset for these organizations. Why is this representation important?
New workers’ organizations in Wisconsin news
After years of declining membership in employee organizations, employees nation-wide are exhibiting a renewed interest in organizing unions and professional employee associations. Employees are organizing again to improve their compensation, hours of work, and general working conditions. Not just nationally, but in Wisconsin as well, new employee organizations are forming and existing unions are flexing their dormant muscles.
When should employees organize?
While protective laws cover certain types of discrimination, minimum wage and overtime, retaliation against opposition to discrimination, and retaliation against protected concerted activity, laws do not govern workplace fairness, arbitrary action, work-life balance, most working conditions, shift or location changes, and the like.
Every day, we get numerous calls from employees suffering from unjust and outrageous work situations which the law does not govern. To address those issues – often some of the most aggravating of all – employees must form a union or employee professional organization to address such unfairness and poor working situations so they can speak with strength to address working conditions.
The importance of experienced representation for unions
A union or professional association can be a key way for employees to achieve their goals and protect the future of their employment. However, forming and/or maintaining a union requires that those employees navigate a variety of labor laws in the process. Working with an attorney who has decades of experience organizing and representing unions, employee professional organizations, and individual employees can offer additional support with a variety of different union actions, including:
- Organizing union campaigns and the various related legal proceedings needed for recognition of the union or employee organization
- Negotiating collective bargaining agreements
- Addressing grievances, contract violations, and union rights, including through arbitration as necessary
- Navigating situations involving disputes between employees involving promotions, co-worker harassment, and other competitive employment situations
- Understanding workers’ compensation, OSHA, and other worker safety issues
- Conducting “Stewards Schools” and other training to maintain active membership in the employee association.
- Defending the Union against management or other lawsuits
Not every attorney has navigated the unique challenges faced by unions and professional organizations. And even those who have had union experience, often do not have experience in employment law generally, workers’ compensation, disability and discrimination law, union democracy issues, or OSHA. An experienced union and employment attorney offers deep knowledge about the legal landscape that can help unions avoid pitfalls and succeed in contract negotiations even in tense situations. This can offer invaluable assistance to organizing drives, newly-formed unions, and established organizations alike.