In new mexico, can i sue my union for not protecting my job during contract negotiations?

Asked 5 months ago - Albuquerque, NM

I am being asked to bump another employee in another organization because the company(a government employer) says that i cannot do the work that i have been doing for the last 15 years because i do not have an apprenticeship for this work that i have been doing for the last 15 years

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Marilynn Mika Spencer

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.

    This sounds like an incredibly raw deal. Unfortunately, no one here can answer this question without knowing what the job requirements are, what you mean by "another organization," what the contract says and what the employer's policies are.

    It is possible, based on what you wrote, that the employer changed the requirements for the job. This may be because the employer now has the option to require more stringent qualifications, or because the employer is required to make the change per law, or some other reason.

    Most unions try to do the right thing and obtain justice. Most often, in this kind of situation, the union tries to grandfather in anyone who has been performing the job for a long time. Your union may have tried as hard as it possibly could but could not negotiate a better deal.

    But sometimes, “justice” does not help an individual employee. One reason is that unions have their primary obligation to the entire group of job classifications the union represents; that group is called the “bargaining unit.” Unions have the right to decide whether to pursue a case or not.

    Most local unions have limited money and staff resources so they must pick and choose which cases to pursue. Unions have to balance the need for more money (to hire more union reps or to take more cases to arbitration, for example) with the bargaining unit’s resistance to higher dues. This is similar to elected officials who must always balance constituents’ wishes with the need to raise taxes.

    Some union reps are highly effective; others are incompetent, just as some attorneys and politicians are incompetent. Many local labor unions are run by volunteers. Many union representatives are full-time employees of the employer so do much of their union work on their own time, especially evenings and weekends. Only some unions have enough money to reimburse their reps for missed work hours, such as when handling a grievance. Only some unions have the strength to negotiate “lost time” with the employer, where the employer has to pay the rep’s wages when the rep is handling grievances; this time is usually limited to a low number of hours.

    Nearly all elected and appointed union officers start out as rank-and-file workers. They may be elected due to work competence, seniority, intelligence, charm, good looks, having a big mouth, blustering, oratory skills, etc. – just like politicians. There is a range of skills and a range of experience among them. Most unions provide some training for officers and stewards, but others don’t have the resources to do so. The quantity and quality of training can vary widely. Whomever is doing contract negotiations for your union may be incompetent. Or perhaps not . . . maybe he or she is fabulous but the employer is standing firm on its position.

    (continued in Comment below)

    @MikaSpencer * * * PLEASE READ: All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss... more

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