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Union teachers fight employment violations, reach settlement

Unions are usually intended to protect certain sectors of the workforce, such as firefighters or factory workers, from injustices that rage from improper wages to unsafe working conditions. A group of unionized Michigan teachers recently determined a settlement with the school where they teach. The school was accused of employment violations relating to some teachers' union status. Some hope that this settlement will allow teachers to more fully focus on their jobs.

Those representing the teachers' union were originally set to appear before the National Labor Relations Board for testimony alongside the company that manages the school. However, with only minutes to spare before testimony was supposed to begin, the school's managing company presented the union's representatives with a settlement. At that point, the testimony was cancelled in lieu of negotiations.

While currently only one of two settlements have been approved, moving forward, the school will be blocked from exerting retaliation against unionized teachers. Additionally, school officials cannot unfairly assign more workload than is reasonable to union teachers. Although this certainly appears to be a plus for the union and its members, the managing company ensured that a statement noting no fault on their part was included in the settlement.

For the most part, unions tend to do a fantastic job at protecting their members from an unfair work environment. Sometimes, however, Michigan employers are believed to engage in employment violations against union members. While in this instance the union was able to negotiate a more reasonable and pleasant work environment for its employees, not all in Michigan are so lucky. Those who have been the victim of a workplace violation that resulted in a wrongful termination may have the legal backing to pursue a wrongful termination claim. To do so would require that the victim prove that they lost their job due to unfair practices or similar employment violations.

Source: The Detroit News, "Detroit charter school, teachers end work dispute", Shawn D. Lewis, April 1, 2014

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