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John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5688
Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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Working for a Municipality in NY. I belong to a union(AFSME).

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Working for a Municipality in NY. I belong to a union(AFSME). When we bargain with mgt., we have a negotiating committee made up of our members and an area rep. This is for neg. contracts to monthly labor/mgt meetings, to discuss grievances, etc. My problem here is: We are working men/women who make up these committees. The union president usually handles our business, while our rep sits there, NOT helping in the least. On his behalf, I do not think he is competent to add much. We probably do a better job than him anyway!! NO, we probably can't get any replacement. Let's assume we are stuck with him. And we have been for years. So, as a result, we have a very difficult time going toe-to-toe with a town attorney with over 30 yrs. there!!! We have kicked this around for a loooong you know of any restictions of our union having our own attorney on retainer, to help us out with these issues? I do not believe there is anything in our contract that prevents us from doing this. Again, there is nothing saying, we can do this, either. We are TIRED of being kicked around because the union members and our sorry ass area rep. are not labor/employment attorneys; who can stand with the town attorney on a daily basis, regarding some of the issues described. Is getting our own attorney something that many union's do? Because, we need to do something. We need to even up the playing field!!!!
Hi, My name is XXXXX XXXXX I’m happy to assist you with your question today.

There are no laws that would prevent your local from hiring its own attorney. You would need permission though from your regional union if you plan to use dues for the matter. In other words, if you all want to pay out of pocket for this particular attorney, then you'd be free to do that. You should also reference your union's bylaws and constitution to be sure it is not a violation of those for a local to retain independent counsel. But, otherwise there is no labor law violation.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Very good answer. Just to follow up, if we go this route, we should look for an employment attorney, right? Is putting one on retainer the way to go? And, any idea(ballpark), what the cost to hire one to work with us is? And just how this whole thing would work? Just an overview? PS: Since there is no labor law violation, what if the town attorney tries to tell us he will NOT neg. with our independent attorney. We can't do that. Again, that's his problem and NOT ours...right?


You really need someone who knows employment AND labor law; those are very related but a little bit different as some employment attorneys know next to nothing about collective bargaining relationships and laws. Usually the unions have one attorney not necessarily on retainer, but that they continually refer work to. Because, it is important for the attorney to be familiar with the union's particular contract and issues with the employer and it takes some time for the attorney to get up to speed on the union and its issues. I'd have to ballpark the hourly fee at $200 - $250 an hour, but if you could negotiate that number down with the promise that they get a constant stream of work from you. If the union designates the attorney as its negotiator, then it would be an unfair labor practice for the town to refuse to bargain with the attorney.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need further assistance. Thanks
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