Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Attorney Labor Unions


A few years ago I wrote a short article about attorney labor unions.  Download Attorney Labor Unions

The point of that article is that attorneys are employees like anyone else. The rules are not any different simply because lawyers are involved. 

There is a battle going on in Ohio whether Assistant Directors of Law for the Civil Division in the City of Cleveland are eligible for unionization. The issue boils down to whether or not these attorneys are public employees as that term is defined in the Ohio statute. 

The City won round one in that the Ohio State Employment Relations Board held that the attorneys were not public employees because they act in a fiduciary capacity to public officals. A copy of the decision can be found by clicking  Download SERB's Order Dismissing Req. Recognition The decision is a bit disappointing in that the Board merely rubber stamped the ALJ decision. One would think that on an issue so important that the Board would have at least offerred an opinion. Although I do not practice in Ohio, I would imagine that this is significant in that a court may not pay as much deference to a decision of an ALJ.

An appeal has, in fact,  been filed in court. I would be interested in knowing if any readers are in attorney labor unions. If you are, leave a comment on this blog with a name of the union. You do not need to leave your name if you do not want too.

We will be following this important case.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Public Sector Labor Law, Unions | Permalink


Interesting! Please do keep us posted on this.

Posted by: Joseph Slater | Jan 9, 2014 6:58:03 AM

Attorneys would be just as well-served by collective bargaining as any other class of worker [assembly line workers, teachers, nurses, professional athletes (it may not seem like it, but billionaire owners have been really clamping down on athletes' salaries), entertainers].

As long as there are partners (management) or general counsel who give orders, determine compensation, and set working conditions, attorneys would benefit from a collective bargaining representative. However, I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Sujan Vasavada | Feb 14, 2014 1:06:57 PM

As Mitch knows, most of the public sector union staff attorneys in NY are unionized. I am a longstanding member of United Steel Workers Local 9265, a wall-to-wall local representing all non-supervisory/executive staff of the Public Employees Federation in Albany. On balance, having a strong local and international has helped the attorney immensely, and being in a mixed unit has not hurt in any meaningful way.

Posted by: Steve Klein | Feb 21, 2014 9:02:52 AM

Post a comment