Steve Swirsky Quoted in “3 Emerging Issues for Unions and Employers as Crisis Shifts”

Law360 Employment Authority

Steven M. Swirsky, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management and Health Care & Life Sciences practices, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “3 Emerging Issues for Unions and Employers as Crisis Shifts,” by Braden Campbell. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

The expanding rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine signals a shift in the crisis, bringing vaccination and other novel labor relations issues to the fore as employers and unions hammer out rules for the changed workplace. Here, Law360 looks at three emerging issues for unions and employers.

Vaccination Programs

While the limited supply of available vaccines has so far been reserved for essential workers and at-risk populations, it's only a matter of time before they're available to the public at large. When that time comes, vaccination may be a hot issue for unions and employers.

The question of whether to mandate vaccination can be fraught, requiring employers to grapple with questions under wage, discrimination and other laws. …

Steven Swirsky, a labor attorney with Epstein Becker Green who advises health care employers, said this issue is already percolating. He said most employers have so far avoided these legal complications by forgoing mandates, especially while vaccine supplies are still low.

"I think a lot of employers … consider making it mandatory and then kind of evolves into 'How can I encourage, how can I support it?'" said Swirsky, the co-chair of the firm's labor management relations practice. …

The Future

While the vaccine promises to restore a degree of normalcy, many workplaces have undergone fundamental changes in the last year. Those changes are likely to inform contract talks as collective bargaining agreements come up for renegotiation. …

Unions and employers alike may also angle to make changes to "force majeure" clauses that give employers leeway in emergency situations, EBG's Swirsky speculated. In the wake of this crisis, employers may seek more protection, while unions are more wary of concessions to management. Given these opposing interests, neither side is likely to be fully happy with any changes, but revised language could provide greater certainty for bargaining partners, he said.