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  • New York

    Hi everyone,

    First time poster here, so I hope you can all be gentle!

    As per the user name, I actually work as a legal writer, though not in this field. In fact, pertinent to this discussion, I work for a major national company that chooses to pay its legal writers (fancy word for paralegal, though it is indeed more writing intensive than usual and we're all required to have college degrees) a fairly lousy hourly wage, with particularly terrible conditions and awful benefits. Though I kind of fell into legal writing and have only been doing it a year, conversations with other people in legal fields, trawling on Glassdoor, and honestly just common sense has told me that this company's pay and benefits are far, far below the usual standard in New York City; it's a for-profit company, but most non-profits that do similar work pay significantly better (and pay with true salaries, usually). The company I work for has some known history of lawsuits over labor practices and some other questionable ethical behavior, particularly with regards to withholding of evidence (a major newspaper covered this in some detail, and the company was under investigation before I got here). I don't think I am ready to name the company at this point as I feel I need to be as anonymous as possible, but it is a company that you have probably seen the television commercials for at some point in your life.

    In any case, on to my question. Though I am not sure I could yet that I could prove willful cooperation between the union and my company, the issues mentioned above have created a general sense among the employees that the union may not be on our side. Most recently, in fact, the union notified us that one of the health plans (the "cheapest" one, which is still barely affordable given the scant amount the employer contributes, and is widely regarded as the worst in the city) will be expiring at the end of the month; the letters were sent out past the first, so we did not have a true 30 days notice, and the letter stated that they are not sure if there will be a replacement plan. To the meet of my question: as a result of all this, I've been doing some research, and it has become clear to me that the co-owner and founder of the company is married to the union president. They have been married for many years and have children together. The other co-owner and founder, who often works out of my specific branch, is the brother of the first co-owner and therefore the brother-in-law of the union president as well. While in my book this constitutes a massive conflict of interest, I am wondering if there is actually a legal problem? Is this actually something that could warrant investigation of law breaking? Or is it merely an (in my opinion) unethical, but perfectly legal arrangement? And putting aside any possibility of an expensive lawsuit, do I have any legal right with regards to demanding better representation free of any such conflict of interest?

    I have been trying to reach the National Labor Relations Board, but to little avail (naturally, you have to reach them during typical 9-5 hours, and my job's office rules are so draconian that merely stepping outside or into the lunchroom for a few minutes to make or take a phone call would be cause for suspension or termination). I have reached out to the New York Department of Labor as well, but the person I spoke to said that he found the question "interesting" and was actually very intrigued, but he had no idea of the answer. Other attorneys I have spoken with over the phone are not sure. I will keep trying these avenues, but anyone have any idea?
    Last edited by Legal Writer; 06-12-2014, 10:03 PM.

  • #2
    There are no laws that prohibit a familial relationship between union leadership and company leadership. If your union is truly not representing your best interests you have some recourse but it requires much more than not being aggressive about pay and not offering a health plan at a rate you would like to pay.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ElleMD View Post
      There are no laws that prohibit a familial relationship between union leadership and company leadership. If your union is truly not representing your best interests you have some recourse but it requires much more than not being aggressive about pay and not offering a health plan at a rate you would like to pay.
      Reads to me like its time to put your talents to better personal use and vote with your feet to work elsewhere

      The arrangement you post may stink and the benefits of union membership may be negative....But I'm not sure I can put my finger on anything illegal.

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