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Executive Order 7H: We Have A Union – Does This Change Anything?

March 21, 2020

In addition to the above considerations, unionized employers will have to consider the impact of the Executive Order on their union contract. Chances are that most union contracts are not going to address this specific situation. However, employers should look at any contract provisions that address business closings for applicable language and any obligations pursuant to that language. In addition, the leave provisions of the contract may provide some guidance.

The contract may also have language related to work assignments for employees that will allow the employer some discretion in determining how to assign work to employees in a remote capacity. If the employer is considering a layoff or furlough, the contract likely has language for that process that will need to be followed. To the extent that the contract is silent, employers should consider the management rights language of the contract, which in most cases will give the employer latitude in making decisions related to the business.

While the duty to bargain over any such decisions will depend on the specific situation, employers may have a duty to bargain over the substantial secondary impacts. Even if no impacts exist, the union should at least be kept apprised of the measures that the employer is taking to maintain its business in this difficult time.

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