There have been some important recent developments in labor law that are worth reporting on, so I am resurrecting my legal corner to discuss them:
New York State and New York City Wage Transparency Laws: There are new state and city wage transparency laws that now require employers to list salary ranges in advertisements or postings for job opportunities and promotions. These laws will go a long way in curtailing pay inequities that exist amongst employee demographics. As noted by State Senator Jessica Ramos, these laws serve as a structural fix to the racial and gender wealth gaps that have left minorities far behind their peers with respect to compensation. While pay disparities are less common in unionized settings, musicians should never hesitate to discuss their compensation with their peers.
McLaren Macomb and Local 40 RN Staff Council, 372 NLRB No. 58 (Feb. 21, 2023): In McLaren, the National Labor Relations Board overruled a Trump era decision holding that severance agreements may compromise employees’ right to engage in concerted activity by prohibiting them from criticizing their employer post-employment. Such provisions are known as non-disparagement clauses. The NLRB has now ruled that such clauses violate employees’ section 7 rights since “public statements by employees about the workplace are central to the exercise of employee rights under the NLRA.”
Glacier Northwest, Inc. v. IBT Local 174: On January 10, 2023, the United States Supreme Court held oral argument in a suit that may have significant impact on Unions’ ability to successfully strike. In Glacier Northwest, IBT Local 174 struck a construction company by refusing to deliver cement that had been prepared in cement mixing trucks- thus destroying the cement. The company sued the Union for monetary damages and the trial court held that the suit was barred (pre-empted) by federal labor law, since an unfair labor complaint had been issued by the NLRB against the employer. SCOTUS will now decide whether the suit should have been barred. Based on my review of the oral argument it seems likely that the High Court will permit the damages suit to proceed. If this is the result, Unions will need to exercise greater care when calling a strike so that damages actions will not be successful. In the words of Justice Roberts, unions may sour the milk, but cannot kill the cow. The potential for damages suits by employers could severely curtail a strike’s effectiveness. This possible result cries out for labor legislation reform. I’ll be keeping track of this litigation and once SCOTUS issues its decision will report back to the membership.
Harvey Mars, Esq. is the Recording Vice President of Local 802 and an attorney with an extensive background in labor law. His officer’s column appears here in this issue.