Category Archives: Labor Unions

Legislative Update: Pending bill would expand sick leave rights for West Virginia employees

House Bill 2770, which was recently introduced into the West Virginia House of Delegates, would create the “Flexible Leave Act” to allow employees to take already earned paid leave, and to use that leave for paid time off for an illness of the employee or the employee’s “immediate family”. The bill does not give employees any additional paid leave—it only allows them to take their paid leave that they have already earned under their employers’ policies, and allows the flexibility (hence the name, “Flexible Leave Act”) to take leave that may have been intended for another purpose, such as earned vacation time, and apply it for the different purpose of their own or an immediate family member’s illness.

On January 24, 2011, Delegates Caputo, Fragale, Hatfield, Martin, and Moye introduced House Bill 2770, which is being referred to the Committee on Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Finance. You can keep track of the progress of the bill by going to the Bill Status page and entering 2770 in the “Enter Bill Number” field. For information on the bill’s sponsors, or on any other members of the Senate, you can go to the House Members page and pick the member from a drop-down list. For those of you who are interested in finding out more about the legislative process, the Legislature has a “How a Bill Becomes Law” page.  The Legislature also has a very nice photo gallery of the Capitol Building.

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Arbitration Agreements in Union Contacts are Enforceable; US Supreme Court in Penn Plaza v. Pyett

USSupremeCourtRightFountain 4/1/09: The US Supreme Court ruled that “pre-dispute arbitration agreements” in collective bargaining agreements (union contracts) are enforceable, in Penn Plaza PLLC v. Pyett, 129 S. Ct. 1456 (2009) (5-4 decision).

This was an age discrimination case under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The plaintiff was a member of a union, and the collective bargaining agreement (union contract) required submitting age discrimination claims to binding arbitration.

The US Supreme Court had previously ruled, but not in a labor union setting, that arbitration agreements for ADEA claims were enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. (Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 26-33 (1991)). So the real issue in Penn Plaza was whether there would be a different result because of the union contract setting and the National Labor Relations Act.

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NLRB Vacancies: The Potential For Big Changes in Labor Union Law

NLRB Logo 2/1/09: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) consist of 5 members, and the NLRB issues important decisions on a broad range of labor union issues.

There are currently only 2 members, so there are 3 vacancies. Wilma Liebman is considered liberal and pro-union. Peter Carey Schaumber is considered conservative and pro-management.

President Obama will be able to fill the 3 vacancies, with a likely significant shift in labor law in the United States.