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Trump Makes it Easier to Sue Your Union

A new NLRB decision will open up unions to more lawsuits

Kris LaGrange's picture
Oct 31, 2018

Since Trump has changed the National Labor Relations Board, the NLRB has become decidedly more anti-union. We previously told you about how the board is trying to make secondary picketing illegal. Now they are making it easier to sue your union.

The new policy says that Unions that don't properly process workers' grievances will now be presumptively considered liable unless they can prove otherwise, a change that could cause a major increase in litigation. Similarly, a union’s failure to keep a worker fully apprised of its efforts to pursue a grievance "constitutes more than mere negligence" and would itself, therefore, be a violation.

While we can all agree that a union should do everything in their power to represent a member to the best of their ability, sometimes there is nothing that they can do. While previously a union could only be sued for acting in bad faith, this change could open up unions to lawsuits from any member whose case they lose. "It is really creating a new form of liability ... It makes poor representation automatically unfair representation," Joshua Parkhurst, a New York-based labor-side attorney told the Washington Examiner.

This ruling also makes it clear that unions cannot treat complaints from non-dues paying members any differently than they would treat a members case. In Right to Work states and following Janus for public sector unions, the union is required to represent all people within their workforce, whether they pay dues or not. With this ruling, someone who doesn’t pay dues and feels like they didn’t get a fair shake will now have a clearer avenue to sue the union.

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