LABOR UNIONS

James and Ryan understand there is a full gamut of laws at a union’s disposal that may complement an organizing campaign or help guarantee that area wages and standards are not violated by non-union employers.  While the firm has experience representing labor unions in traditional union legal matters such as arbitrations, unfair labor practice charges before the NLRB, and duty of fair representation (DFR) litigation, James and Ryan focus their practice on representing unions, their members, and employees they are organizing in a much wider range of legal matters.

 

Creative Strategies to Enforce Prevailing Wages and Area Standards

James and Ryan litigated a False Claims Act case on behalf of an electricians’ union against a non-union contractor that falsely classified and paid its electrician employees as lower-paid laborers on a federally-funded prevailing wage job.  That case resulted in a judgment against the company and in favor of the union and the United States for a total of $2,488,474.62.  See U.S. ex rel. IBEW Local Union No. 98 v. The Farfield Company, 438 F.Supp.3d 348 (E.D. Pa. 2020).  The case is currently on appeal to the Third Circuit.   

 

In New Jersey, the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act (NJPWA) may be a powerful tool for unions to hold non-union contractors accountable for not paying their employees the full prevailing wage because (unlike the federal Davis-Bacon Act) the NJPWA provides employees the right to sue their employer in court for failure to pay the prevailing wage.  Such claims may be brought by the aggrieved employees on an individual or class basis, or those employees may assign their prevailing wage claims to a union which can then sue the employer on their behalf.  See, e.g., N.J. Carpenters v. Tishman Constr. Corp., 760 F.3d 297 (3d Cir. 2014)(holding that union benefit funds were not foreclosed by ERISA from bringing suit for employees’ unpaid prevailing wages where the employees assigned their prevailing wage claims to the funds).  

 

Wage and Hour Actions

Unions attempting to organize non-union shops in any industry are uniquely positioned to identify minimum wage, overtime, and other employment violations.  In the context of organizing campaigns, the firm has successfully brought wage and hour lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act against non-union employers who misclassified their employees as independent contractors and failed to pay the employees overtime compensation. In another unpaid overtime matter, James and Ryan secured a $337,000 settlement on behalf of four supervisory EMS responders who were not included in the union bargaining unit.       

 

Public Sector Constitutional Challenges

When a city in Pennsylvania attempted to indefinitely furlough union teachers pursuant to Pennsylvania’s newly-enacted Act 55, James and Ryan represented the teachers in a novel civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Although the case was dismissed on other grounds, James and Ryan succeeded in establishing new case law holding that public employees may bring a civil rights action under § 1983 for violation of their rights under the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution.  See Watters v. Bd. of Sch. Dirs., 400 F.Supp.3d 117 (M.D. Pa. 2019)

 

Union Benefit Fund Representation

The firm’s attorneys also have significant experience representing union benefit funds in delinquent contributions (29 U.S.C. §§ 185, 1145), withdrawal liability, and bankruptcy matters.  

How We Can Help

Ryan and James continue to focus their legal practice on fiercely advocating for labor unions and their members in both traditional and non-traditional labor litigation.  

 

Depending on the particular case, the firm may be able to take on union or employee clients on a contingent (meaning no legal bills unless successful recovery), hourly, or hybrid basis.  Please contact the firm to discuss the details of your case.