Layoff with no severance and hiring non union workers to do the job

I am a union employee and due to budget cuts the company is eliminating their entire IT dept. therefore laying us all off giving us a 2 week notice. However, they will be paying a private consulting company to do this union job and told us that the consulting company will be interviewing us and may keep a few of us. Now, we're not receiving severance pay nor are promised a job with this other company. Is this legal? I've been paying union dues for over 2 years now and have never met anyone from the union.

1 answer  |  asked Dec 30, 2003 12:31 AM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Outsourcing

An employer can outsource a particular function, such as IT. If that involving terminating an entire department, there is nothing illegal about that.

Because employees generally have no right to severance, the fact that the employees are being terminated without being offered severance makes no difference. (Note that this answer is making a lot of assumption. Depending on what the employer has done and said in the past, it is possible that the terminated union employees have a right to severance.)

A big caveat here is the union. Yes, it is generally legal for the employer to eliminate an entire department, and terminated every employee in the department without severance. But, because there is a union, the entire action may be subject to collective bargaining. So, the employer may have to negotiate with the union over the outsourcing proposal, and the union may be able to negotiate something which lessens the sting to terminated employees.

The union owes its members a duty of fair representation. So, the members being laid off have a right to expect the union to get involved in the situation. If the union arbitrarily fails to act, the laid off members might be able to sue the union over the termination.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Dec 30, 2003 07:54 AM [EST]

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