Federal Court Washes Away Promotion Of Union Membership

Labor unions, back in the day, had a very important role in American society – ensuring that workers are paid fairly and are able to work in safe environments. There are whole sections of labor law that can be directly traced back to the hard work of unions in advocating for workers -from the federal minimum wage to the creation of OSHA and its myriad regulations and standards, to the establishment of pension funds and retirement plans administered by employers. Not to mention the 40-hour work week, overtime and paid vacation and sick days.

Over the past several decades, however, as union work and advocacy has been codified in federal and state labor law, unions’ usefulness has been found wanting, and their membership numbers have steadily declined. As such, those unions have been working hard to grease the right political palms in order to encourage more union membership and more dues money so they can continue their advocacy work, such as it is.

New York City tried to help in the car-wash industry, but a recent law was shot down by a federal judge, saying that the law illegally promotes unionization, which is a violation of federal labor law.

In the car-wash industry, there seems to be a problem in New York City about workers sometimes not getting paid what is owed to them in wages, so the city stepped forward and tried to address the problem since only about 10 percent of the estimated 200 car-wash facilities in the City are unionized. The law would have put some kind of guarantee on wages while essentially guiding businesses toward allowing more unionization among their workers.

The law passed by the City Council was intended to “protect” low-wage car-wash workers. The bill would have required car washes to pony up a bond as part of its licensing application – $30,000 for ”
union shops” or those whose employees want monitoring; $150,000 for all other businesses.

The different tiers of bonding struck the federal court the wrong way, declaring it an outward “promotion” of unionization, which violates federal law prohibiting states from advocating a position in a bargaining process between labor and management. The City is discussing appeal options.

If you own an NYC business or are considering locating your business in New York City, these kinds of laws and legal decisions make it imperative for you to have an advocate in your corner who understands all of the business-related laws in the City and will be up-to-date and versed in all the issues that your business may encounter while operating in the City. Success in New York City can mean success anywhere, but that success won’t be assured without doing your homework and having an expert business attorney to provide quality advice every step of the way.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.