Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Missouri Becomes 28th Right To Work State

 Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri, on Feb. 6, 2017,  signed a Bill into law which  makes Missouri the 28th right-to-work state.   Under this new law, effective August 28, 2017, employers are barred from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming a member of a labor organization or to pay dues or other charges required of labor organization members.

Additionally, in Congress The “National Right-to-Work Act.” was recently introduced.  The bill, H.R. 785, introduced by Representatives Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Steve King (R-Iowa), would amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to remove language which permits agency shop agreements. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

February 8, 2017 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Columbia University Grad Students Form Union

No surprises here. After the NLRB ruled that graduate students were employees, Columbia University students voted by a margin of more than 2-1  in favor of unionization. here

Of course, within 2 or 3 years it is very likely that the "Trump Board" will reverse Columbia University and return to the holding in Brown University (that students are not employees). 

Welcome to politics as usual at the Labor Board. My students are all very familar with political influence in  NLRB cases. This is just another illustration of why elections matter.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

December 10, 2016 in News, NLRB, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

State Judge Strikes Wisconsin's Right to Work Law

Machinists v. Wisconsin, Case No. 2015CV000628 (Dane Co. April 8, 2016) Download Wisc Order is an important case.  A state trial judge struck down 2015 Wisconsin Act 1 which was known as the right to work law. This statute prohibits labor organizations from assessing dues on non-union members and negotiating union security clauses in collective bargaining agreements. This case is important because it is the only decision which has struck down a right to work statute. Slip op. at 13. 

Applying the Wisconsin Constitution, the court held that this statute resulted in a taking of property without just compensation. The court engaged in an extensive analysis of property rights and concluded that the union had a property interest in the services they perform  for both members and non-members because labor is a commodity that can be bought and sold. 

No doubt this decision will be appealed. Law review commentary would be welcomed. I am stunned that this decision is not reported.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

May 5, 2016 in Law Review Ideas, Recent Developments, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Can Labor Turn Out The Vote

Readers may be interested in this NY Times article by former NY Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse entitled Can Labor Still Turn Out The Vote. As the article states:

With its shrinking ranks, organized labor, which tilts strongly Democratic, was already struggling to compete with Republican-leaning “super PACs” financed by wealthy conservatives like the Koch brothers, who have vowed with their allies to spend $889 million on this election. Now the labor movement is being buffeted by another force: Donald J. Trump, whose attacks on trade deals, illegal immigrants, Chinese imports and the shifting of jobs overseas are winning over white, blue-collar workers.

Can a weakened labor movement still provide the money, voters and get-out-the-vote muscle to elect the Democratic nominee in crucial swing states, as it has in the past?


Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 6, 2016 in Information, Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kentucky Right To Work Municipal Ordinance Preempted By NLRA

UAW v. Hardin County, ___F. Supp. 2d ___(W.D. Kentucky, Feb. 3, 2016), is an important case.  Download Hardin County Order

A federal court held that a municipal ordinance which mandated right to work and limited union hiring halls and due-checkoff provisions was preempted by the NLRA. The NLRA, of course and most notably in Section 14(b), permits STATES to enact Right to Work laws. 

The decision, which spans 14 pages, is well written and provides a nice summary of the NLRA and existing precedent in this area. As the court explains:

Section 14(b) provides that nothing in the NLRA shall be read to authorize the execution or application of union-security agreements “in any State or Territory in which such execution or application is prohibited by State or Territorial law.” 29 U.S.C. § 164(b). As the plaintiffs observe, it makes little sense to read “State or Territorial law” as encompassing local law in light of the statute’s previous reference to “any State or Territory”—if “State or Territorial law” includes the laws of political subdivisions, then the statute must be read “in any State or Territory [or political subdivision thereof]” to avoid assigning two different meanings to “State” in the same sentence. This is not a logical reading; “[a] standard principle of statutory construction provides that identical words and phrases within the same statute should normally be given the same meaning.”

Law review commentary would be most welcome. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein




February 4, 2016 in Labor Law, Law Review Ideas, NLRB, Recent Developments, State Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

BLS Union Membership Stats Just Released

On January 28, 2016, the BLS released their annual statistics on union membership and the results are not pretty if you support unions, particularly in the private sector. Here.  Among the highlights:

•	Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.2 percent) more
	than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7 percent).
	(See table 3.)

•	Workers in protective service occupations and in education, training,
	and library occupations had the highest unionization rates (36.3 percent
	and 35.5 percent, respectively). (See table 3.)

•	Men continued to have a slightly higher union membership rate (11.5
	percent) than women (10.6 percent). (See table 1.)

•	Black workers were more likely to be union members than were White,
	Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)

•	Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers ($776) were 79 percent of
	earnings for workers who were union members ($980). (The comparisons
	of earnings in this release are on a broad level and do not control for
	many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.)
	(See table 2.)

•	Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership
	rate (24.7 percent), while South Carolina had the lowest (2.1 percent).
	(See table 5.)

Researchers and scholars may find this information very helpful.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

January 28, 2016 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Doctor Unions

An interesting article in the Jan 9, 2016 NY Times about Doctor Unions can be found here. It addresses some of the personal and professional concerns that doctors employed by hospitals have. Doctors are employees like everyone else. While the article does not highlight the legal issues concerning doctor unionization, one of the major issues that some of them may face is a claim that they are supervisors. Undoubtably, some are, but many are not and they should be able to join a union just like anyone else.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

January 10, 2016 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Union Membership Surges in Indiana After Passage of Right to Work Law

In what may appear to be completely contradictory, union membership is surging in Indiana after that state passed a Right to Work Law, here.  As the cited article states:

Indiana had 299,000 union members last year, up from 249,000 union members in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union membership, which dipped as low as 9.1 percent of the workforce in 2012, was back to 10.7 percent of the workforce in 2014.

And the number of Indiana workers who are represented by unions in their workplace, but not necessarily dues-paying members, rose to 335,000 last year, which is 12 percent of the total workforce.

The rhetoric is that unions – which represented a quarter of all American workers as recently as 1980 – are dying, a relic of a bygone age. But Northwest Indiana and much of the state remain bastions of the labor movement.  

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

September 28, 2015 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gallup Poll Indicates Support For Unions Are Increasing

On August 17, 2015, Gallup released the following:

Americans' approval of labor unions has jumped five percentage points to 58% over the past year, and is now at its highest point since 2008, when 59% approved. In the interim, the image of organized labor had suffered, sinking to an all-time low of 48% in 2009.

Trend: Do you approve or disapprove of labor unions?

Gallup first asked Americans about organized labor in 1936, a year after Congress legalized private-sector unions and collective bargaining. At that time, 72% of Americans approved of unions. Support remained high into the 1960s, but then dipped through the 1970s until it reached 55% in 1979. It has since varied, reaching as high as 66% in 1999 and as low as the 48% in 2009.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


August 19, 2015 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

NY Court of Appeals Issues Major Duty of Fair Representation Decision

Palladino v. CNY Centro, ___N.Y.3d___(April 8, 2014), is a major decision.  In a 5-2 decision the New York Court of Appeals affirms the dismissal of a duty of fair representation case brought against a labor union that refused to take a discharge case to arbitration. Why, because each and every member of the union did not ratify the decision. 

In so holding, the Court re-affirmed Martin v. Curran, 303 N.Y. 276 (1951) and quoted my article, Union Immunity from Suit in New York, 2 NYU J. L. & Bus. 641, 649 (2006).  The Court correctly reasoned that NY still follows the common law which does not consider unincorporated associations to be juristic entities. Liability remains with the individual union members.

The Court noted the critisim that the Martin rule has received and the fact that it is virtually impossible for any labor union in New York to have common law liability.

The Court, however, noted that Plaintiff could have filed a DFR improper practice under the Taylor Law. 

It is feels good to be cited by the Court of Appeals.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


April 8, 2014 in Duty of Fair Representation, New York Law, Public Sector Employment Law, Public Sector Labor Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Breaking News: BLS Releases 2013 Data on Union Membership

The BLS just released their annual survey of union membership. As ususal, the report is quite comprehensive and is available here.  Some of the highlights include:

    --Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.3 percent) more 
     than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7 percent). 

   --Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective 
     service occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 35.3 percent for 
     each occupation group. 

   --Men had a higher union membership rate (11.9 percent) than women (10.5 
     percent). (See table 1.)

   --Black workers were more likely to be union members than white, Asian, or 
     Hispanic workers. 
--Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.4 percent), and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.0 percent).

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


January 24, 2014 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

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


January 5, 2014 in Public Sector Labor Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, November 4, 2013

7th Issues A Major Decision Concerning Union Release Time


In Titan Tire Corp. v. United Steel Workers (Nov. 1, 2013), the Seventh Circuit held that an arbitration award requiring the company to honor a contract provision requiring the payment of the full-time union salaries of covered employees who took leave to hold local union office was void as against public policy because it required payments that violate LMRA § 302.  Expressly disagreeing with the Third Circuit's decision in Caterpillar, Inv. v. UAW, 107 F.3d 1052 (3d Cir. 1997), the Seventh Circuit concluded that the level of compensation paid to the local officers under the terms of the collectively bargained union leave provision was so incommensurate with the officers' former employment at Titan as to not come within the 302(c)(1) for payments made "by reason of" former employment.  Chief Judge Wood, joined by two other circuit judges, dissented from denial of rehearing en banc.

A copy of the decision is available to be downloaded by clicking  Download Titan Tire v. United Steel Workers

This decision is 49 pages long and full of cites. Law review commentary on this important topic would be most welcome.


Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 4, 2013 in Law Review Ideas, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Union Stats maintains an extensive data base on union statistics. While much of this information is probably also available form the BLS, readers may find this web site useful.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

August 6, 2013 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Targeting Union Employees For Layoffs Violates The First Amendment

State Employee Bargaining Coalitation v. Roland, ___F.3d___( 2d Cir. May 31, 2013), is an important case. I am surprised that this case has not gotten alot of national press. The 2d Circuit holds that targeting Union employees for layoff violates the First Amendment. The court applies strict scrutiny and reasoned as follows:
We ourselves have stated thatit cannot “be questioned that the First Amendment’s protection of speech and
associational rights extends to labor union activities.” Conn. State Fed’n of Teachers v.
Bd. of Educ. Members, 538 F.2d 471, 478 (2d Cir. 1976); see also Int’l Longshoremen’s
Ass’n v. Waterfront Comm’n of N.Y. Harbor, 642 F.2d 666, 670 (2d Cir. 1981) (“The
First Amendment’s protection of the right of association extends to labor union
However, we have never articulated a standard for determining whether, and under
what circumstances, a public entity’s employment decisions violate this right to associate
in unions. With respect to a public employee’s right to associate with political parties, the
Supreme Court stated in Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois that government employers
may not “condition[] hiring decisions on political belief and association . . . unless the
government has a vital interest in doing so.” 497 U.S. 62, 78 (1990); see also Branti v.
Finkel, 445 U.S. 507, 520 (1980) (holding that termination of public defenders because
they were not affiliated with Democratic Party violated First Amendment); Elrod v.
Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 372-73 (1976) (holding that public employees who alleged they
were discharged because they were not members of sheriff’s political party stated a First
Amendment claim); Keyishian v. Bd. of Regents, 385 U.S. 589, 609-10 (1967)
(invalidating state university system’s prohibition on membership in Communist Party).
The Supreme Court was concerned that the government would “wield[] its power to
interfere with its employees’ freedom to believe and associate,” Rutan, 497 U.S. at 76,
and noted that “conditioning public employment on the provision of support for the
favored political party ‘unquestionably inhibits protected belief and association,’” id. at
69, quoting Elrod, 427 U.S. at 359. It therefore held that hiring based on political party
affiliation was subject to strict scrutiny and must be “narrowly tailored to further vital
government interests.” Rutan, 497 U.S. at 74; see also Branti, 445 U.S. at 515-16
(requiring “an overriding interest of vital importance” to fire a public employee solely for
his private beliefs (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).
Conditioning public employment on union membership, no less than on political
association, inhibits protected association and interferes with government employees’
freedom to associate. It is therefore subject to the same strict scrutiny, and may be done
only “in the most compelling circumstances.” Rutan, 497 U.S. at 76.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 22, 2013 in Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Public Sector Labor Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Workers Memorial Day 2013

Matt Pelletier writes to tell us about Workers Memorial Day which is on April 28, 2013. He published a tribute page which is full of interesting information about OSHA. I did not know anything about Workers Memorial Day. He describes it as follows:

Workers memorial day is a commemoration day that is celebrated in the U.S and abroad each year on April 28th. It is meant to remember those who have been killed or left disabled as a result of an injury suffered at work. It’s an opportunity to recognize the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and bring greater awareness to safety campaigns and legislation.

His web page is certainly worth reading.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 27, 2013 in Misc., Non-Legal, Unions | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

NBA Union Executive Director Fired

The Executive Director of the NBA Players Union was recently fired. He allegedly engaged in a number of questionable practices and is subject to a criminal investigation as well as a investigation by the Department of Labor. Additional details can be found here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

February 16, 2013 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Breaking News. Unionization Rates Continue to Decline

On January 23, 2013, the BLS released its annual report on the rate of unionization. Overall, the rate of unionization feel from 11.8% to 11.3%. Public sector workers had a 35.8 percent membership rate while the rate on unionization in the private sector dropped to 6.6%.

Significantly, however, union members continue to earn more than there non-union counterparts. As the report states:

In 2012, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly
earnings of $943, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings
of $742. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, this earnings
difference reflects a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions
of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, firm size, or geographic

The full report can be found here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

January 23, 2013 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Court Allows USW to Proceed With Challenge To Recent Indiana Right-to-Work Legislation

An Indiana trial court ruled Oct. 16 that the United Steelworkers can pursue a legal challenge to the right-to-work legislation enacted in the state earlier this year, finding the court could not “categorically” rule “at this time” that the new statute does not violate the state constitution (United Steelworkers v. Daniels, Ind. Cir. Ct., No. 45C01-1207-PL-00071, 10/16/12). The statute is (H.B. 1001) which took effect March 14, 2012. 

Law review commentary on this important topic is encourgaged. Undoubtedly, there will be further appeals.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 10, 2012 in Law Review Ideas, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Future of Unions

On July 17, 2012, the NY Times ran an interesting story about the future of Unions, available here. The point of the article is that Unions need to change and that the Union of the future may be different from the Union of today. As the article states:    

                The future labor movement may have to give up organizing work site by work site. Its                 biggest political fight in the last few years — pushing a law to make it easier to organize a                 workplace — may be irrelevant. And fighting to create new barriers to foreign competition is                 probably a lost cause. Instead of negotiating for their members only, unions might do better                 pulling for better wages and conditions for all workers.

                Some scholars, like the economist Richard B. Freeman of the National Bureau of Economic                 Research, suggest the labor movement could take a page from the AARP’s playbook and                 become a lobbying group. German-like worker councils could discuss workplace issues with                 management, without negotiating over pay.

                Maybe unions don’t have to entirely give up collective bargaining but broaden it. A model                 might be the alliance between the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Domestic Workers Alliance of New                 York City to push for a bill of rights for nonunionized nannies and maids.

                In any event, 80 years from now, labor organizations will probably look as different as our                 current unions look when compared with the guilds of 80 years ago. Today’s strongest unions                 — of autoworkers and airline pilots — could easily be the weakest, decimated by international                 competition. Unions may well be strongest in hospitals, hotels and other businesses not                 exposed to international trade.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


August 16, 2012 in Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)