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Unions and Workers’ Compensation: Does Being in a Union Matter?

If you've been injured in an accident or on the job, the attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP have the knowledge, skills, and experience required to hold the party responsible for your injury accountable.

Last Updated: 05-15-2024
Written by: Michael A. Rose and Gregory Hach

Unions and Workers’ Compensation_ Does Being in a Union Matter

As an employee, you may wonder how your union membership affects your rights and benefits, especially your workers’ compensation benefits. Unions play a significant role in advocating for better working conditions, wages, and benefits for their members. What is the relationship between unions and workers’ compensation? Does being in a union impact your access to workers’ compensation if you suffer a work-related injury or illness?

Understanding Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program. In New York, most employers with one or more employees are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees. This insurance provides benefits to employees suffering from job-related injuries or illnesses. These benefits cover medical treatment expenses, lost wages, and disability.

The workers’ compensation system operates on a no-fault basis, which allows employees to receive benefits irrespective of fault for work-related injury or illness. In return for these assured benefits, employees typically waive their right to sue their employer.

Unions and Workers’ Compensation

How does membership affect the relationship between unions and workers’ compensation? Union membership can provide additional support and resources for employees who use the workers’ compensation system. Unions often have experience dealing with work-related injuries and can guide their members through the claims process. They may also maintain connections with attorneys specializing in workers’ compensation cases, who can offer legal representation if necessary.

One of the primary ways unions assist their members with workers’ compensation is through collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). CBAs are contracts negotiated between unions and employers that outline the terms and conditions of employment, including wages, benefits, and working conditions. Many CBAs include provisions related to workers’ compensation, such as:

  • Guaranteed coverage: Some CBAs require employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance, even if state law does not mandate having it. When an employee is injured at work, the insurance can cover the expenses.
  • Enhanced benefits: CBAs may negotiate for workers’ compensation benefits that exceed the minimum requirements set by state law. This includes higher wage replacement rates or longer periods of disability payments.
  • Return-to-work programs: Unions may negotiate for return-to-work programs that help injured workers transition back to their jobs or find alternative positions within the company.
  • Dispute resolution: CBAs often include grievance procedures that allow employees to challenge denied workers’ compensation claims or other disputes related to their benefits.

Union Employee Injury Benefits

In addition to the protections offered by workers’ compensation, union employees may receive additional injury benefits. The specifics of these benefits can vary depending on the particular union and the collective bargaining agreement terms. Examples of injury benefits union employees gain through their union membership include:

  • Supplemental payments: Some unions offer additional short-term or long-term disability benefits. These benefits can supplement the wage replacement payments provided by workers’ compensation.
  • Rehabilitation and retraining: Unions may provide access to rehabilitation services or retraining programs to help injured employees recover and return to work.
  • Legal assistance: Many unions have relationships with workers’ compensation attorneys who can provide legal representation to members who have been denied benefits or are facing disputes with their employer or insurance company.

Who Pays for Workers’ Comp on Union Employees?

In most cases, the employer is responsible for paying workers’ compensation premiums for all employees, including union members. However, the specific arrangements may vary depending on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and the workers’ compensation laws of the state.

Some CBAs may require the employer to contribute to a union-administered workers’ compensation fund, which then benefits injured employees. If an employee had a workplace accident, employees who filed a workers compensation claim can use the union’s insurance.

In other cases, the employer may purchase workers’ compensation insurance through a private carrier or state-run program. The union then may play a role in selecting the carrier or negotiating the terms of coverage.

Union employees generally receive the same workers’ compensation benefits as non-union employees in the event of a work-related injury or illness.

Union Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Unions and Workers’ Compensation_ Does Being in a Union MatterIf you are a union member who has suffered a workplace injury or illness, you may benefit from the assistance of a union workers’ compensation attorney. These attorneys represent union employees in workers’ compensation cases and have experience navigating the unique issues that can arise.

A union workers’ compensation attorney can help you:

  • File your initial claim: An attorney can help you gather the necessary documentation and evidence to support your workers’ compensation claim so that it is filed correctly and on time.
  • Appeal a denied claim: If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, an attorney can help you through the appeals process. They will also present a strong case for why you are entitled to benefits.
  • Negotiate a settlement: In some cases, it may be in your best interest to negotiate a settlement with your employer or the insurance carrier. An attorney will evaluate any settlement offers and negotiate terms that protect your rights and interests.
  • Represent you in court: Should your case go to trial, a union workers’ compensation attorney can provide skilled legal representation. They will also argue your case before a judge or administrative panel.

Union Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Hach & Rose, LLP is a union workers’ compensation law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of injured union employees. Our attorneys possess extensive experience in handling workers’ compensation cases for union members across a broad spectrum of industries. We understand the unique challenges union employees face when navigating the workers’ compensation system. We are committed to providing compassionate, knowledgeable representation every step of the way.

The New York City union workers’ compensation lawyers and the team at Hach & Rose, LLP have a proven record of success in handling complex workers’ compensation cases and securing favorable outcomes for our clients. Be it a denied claim, a employer dispute, or a long-term disability, we can help you get the benefits you deserve.

Contact our legal team today at (212) 779-0057 for a free, confidential consultation if you’re a labor union member who suffered job injuries. We’ll review your case, address your questions, and make sure you understand your legal options. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no upfront costs and only owe attorney fees if we recover compensation on your behalf. Let us help you. Call today.

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