I need to know if a contract is good and enforceable before it is signed, dated, and a communication of acceptance has been made and are the union members working under the new contract or the old contract untill this has been done.
All contracts --not just those between unions and employers-- can be written, and presumably signed and dated by both sides, or oral, or "implied in fact" by the parties conduct.
Like all contract questions, oit depends on the circumstances surrounding the contract's negotiaton and execution.
If you're a union member, you should refer the question about the operative contract to your union rep.
Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.
Signed and dated is less relevant that the "communication of acceptance." If an offer has been made and acceptance has been communicated, then the contract has been formed and is enforceable regardless of whether there is a physical signature on it (this is why lawyers talk about "executing" a new contract rather than "signing" one).
It sounds, from your question, like the old contract was still a Union contract. If so, under the National Labor Relations Act (29 USC 152 et seq.), that contract governs the terms and conditions of employment until the Union and employer either reach a new agreement or negotiate to impasse. At impasse, the employer can implement whatever its "last, best, and final offer" to the Union was, and the Union can strike. The contract ceases to bind either of the parties following the impasse. By contrast, if the employer breaches the contract before it has been superseded by a new agreement or impasse has been reached, the Union can pursue one of two remedies: (1) grievance and arbitration of the breach under the existing collective-bargaining agreement; or (2) filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
All of the foregoing presupposes that you work for a private employer. Private employer-Union relations are governed by the National Labor Relations Act. If you work for a public entity, however, you will need to look at the labor relations laws applicable to that entity in particular to determine how much of the foregoing is true. In Arkansas, for example, there is no law that governs public employee labor relations and thus no entity to file unfair practice charges with. If an employer breaches a contract there, the Union can strike, sue for breach of contract, or both, but cannot seek redress from an agency akin to the National Labor Relations Board.
I agree with my colleague that, if you are a Union member, you should ask your rep what the status of the contract negotiations are. If you are a public employee, you should also ask your rep what labor laws you are operating under.
The information provided in this Answer is offered for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or counseling. You should not rely on the information herein in assessing your legal rights, determining to take legal action, in any formal papers filed in a legal or administrative forum, or in any way whatsoever. Moreover, this Answer does not create an attorney-client relationship - only the formal, written agreement required by the State Bar of California can do that. You should always have a full consultation with a lawyer if you are contemplating any sort of legal action.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline