Although employment in New York is generally at will, people who are members of a union may be subject to contractual agreements. Specifically, union members are often bound by collective bargaining agreements that dictate not only the terms of their employment but how any disputes must be handled. Recently, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York discussed when plaintiffs may be forced to arbitrate a wage claim pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. If you are a member of a union and your employer failed to pay you the compensation you are owed, it is advisable to speak with a dedicated New York wage and hour attorney to determine what recourse is available for your damages.
Facts Regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement
Allegedly, the plaintiffs were employed by the defendant waste management company prior to 2015. While the plaintiffs were employed by the defendant, they were members of a union that signed a collective bargaining agreement with the defendant, with a term period of January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2015. In early December 2015, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging eight causes of action arising out of the defendant’s failure to pay the plaintiffs wages they were owed.
Reportedly, in December 2015, after the plaintiffs had terminated their agreement with the defendant, the union executed a memorandum extending the previous collective bargaining agreement until December 31, 2015. In December 2016, a second memorandum agreement was signed that modified the grievance procedure of the agreement by including an arbitration clause. The defendant then filed a motion to compel arbitration based on the terms of the second memorandum. The plaintiffs opposed the motion on the grounds they were no longer employees and therefore were no longer subject to the agreement.