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John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5619
Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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I am a union member and am employed by a DOD contractor. I

Customer Question

I am a union member and am employed by a DOD contractor. I am receiving short term disability payments because an illness not related to work. Under our old agreement of 2012… our short term disability payment was 60% of our base pay with a weekly cap of $450. Our union contract was renegotiated and an agreement was by members in November 2014. One of the changes agreed on during that contract ratification was the $450 cap was to be removed giving us a full 60% short term disability payment. I have been on disability since the end of July 2015. They have capped my weekly payments under guidelines of the old agreement. All other changes agreed upon during the 2014 contract ratification became effective the first of 2015. When I filed a grievance over this, one of the union directors signed an agreement with the head of my company's HR department stating that it was previously a verbal agreement that the payment cap was not to be effective until the first of 2016. Is this even legal? It seems to me is classified as collusion. I have heard nothing from the union rep in months. I don't know what to do but I feel I should have received the full 60%. I have been told I can't sue the company because I'm represented by a union. Can I don't feel I'm being represented in this case.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.

In this situation my opinion would be that you are at least owed the increased benefits from July 15 to the date of the letter/memo of understanding between union and management. Unfortunately it is completely within the purview of the union to renegotiate a contract term at any point in time, and unless you can show something like collusion or they are discriminating against you for an illegal reason, you cannot challenge the renegotiation as courts have widely ruled that unions have a wide discretion in re/negotiation of the contract.

But the fact is that for that period from Jan 2015 until the renegotiation the contract expressly allowed for increased benefits. You need a declaration from the union that it is rejecting the grievance or not pursuing arbitration. Once that occurs you can two courses of action. If the union ultimately fails to do these things for you - there are two courses of action you can take -1) is to file an unfair labor practice against the union for failure to represent you. These are free of charge and you can follow the process at this link 2) is to file a Section 301Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) claim against both the employer and union in federal court. With the Section 301 claim you would indeed have to hire your own attorney. In the 301 claim you are essentially suing the employer (because it violated the collective bargaining agreement) and the Union(because it did not properly represent you).

Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.

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