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Sterling Employment Law

Union strikes after alleged wrongful terminations in Muskegon

Losing a job is a serious issue for workers everywhere, including those in Michigan. Unfortunately, some employees lose their jobs not for valid reasons, but because of employer retaliation.

The recent alleged retaliatory firing of four Michigan health care company employees has spurred picketing in western Michigan. According to a representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Muskegon Family Care health center terminated the employees after they attended an informational union meeting on their own time.

AFSCME, one of the largest unions representing public service employees, filed a charge against the health center with the National Labor Relations Board and requested adjudication so that the terminated employees will be able to regain their jobs.

Working conditions in the health center were unfavorable, according to former employees and providers. Employees complained about the health center's employment practices, noting that their picket was about a lot more than the dismissal of four employees. According to some pickets, employees were threatened with termination if they joined the rally. The employees believe that union representation will get them some protection against unfair employment practices.

The heath care facility's CEO denied the wrongful termination and other allegations, contending that neither she nor the company engages in any illegal activities. She further claimed that she does not oppose employees joining a union, adding that it would not affect the center's management.

Losing a job can profoundly affect a family's income and make it hard to make ends meet while the worker looks for new employment.

Retaliation against an employee for joining a union or a strike is illegal. Under employment law, employees have the right to join unions and voice their concerns about issues that affect their safety and well-being. Fortunately, a wrongfully discharged employee may be eligible to sue an employer and seek restitution.

Source: MLive, "Union's informational picketing at Muskegon Family Care draws dozens, support for fired employees," Michelle D. Anderson, March 19, 2014

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