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How Do Labor Unions Affect Workers’ Compensation?

April 26, 2021

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Labor unions have been around for decades, and they have helped usher in many positive changes for workers in America, including the eight-hour workday, weekends off, the end of child labor, employer-based healthcare coverage, a minimum wage, and the establishment of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Workers’ compensation benefits have also had many positive effects on American workers, especially those who work in dangerous occupations that put them at high risk of serious and disabling injuries. A form of workers’ compensation was first established in Europe in the late 1800s, and by the turn of the 20th century, workers’ compensation laws passed in many states throughout the U.S.

There’s no denying the impact that both labor unions and workers’ compensation have had on American workers, but how do they intersect—and does belonging to a union affect your workers’ compensation eligibility?

Union Members ARE Eligible for Workers’ Compensation After Injuries

If you belong to a labor union, whether it’s an autoworker union, a teacher’s union, an emergency responder union, or a trade union, you’re still eligible to apply for and receive workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related injury.

Unions Can Reduce the Need for Workers’ Compensation Benefits by Creating Safer Workplaces

The biggest way that unions can affect workers’ compensation benefits is by making them less necessary by reducing the risk of injuries. Unions have forced entire industries to adopt stricter safety policies, training, guidelines, and equipment to protect workers. And the safer and more well-trained workers are when doing their jobs, the less likely they are to get hurt and need to file workers’ compensation claims.

Collective Bargaining Agreements Mean Certain Guidelines Must Be Followed

Although union members are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits just as non-union members are eligible, they may have to follow different guidelines. That’s because unions have contracts with employers called collective bargaining agreements.

These contracts include many rules and provisions, and they often include stipulations and requirements for workers’ compensation benefits after injuries. In other cases, the collective bargaining agreements may differ only slightly or not at all from state requirements.

If you get hurt on the job and are a union member, you should:

  • Report your injury to your employer and your union representative—All employees who get hurt on the job should immediately report their injuries to their supervisors or managers, and union members are no different. However, union members should complete an additional step of reporting their injuries to their union representatives or chapters.
  • Get medical attention—It’s important to get prompt medical treatment after an on-the-job injury. Doing so not only puts you on a quicker path to recovery but also establishes that your injury occurred at work. This is vital for helping you get your application approved by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
  • Contact an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer—Although you may have different requirements to apply for benefits and more legal protections than non-union members, your workers’ compensation claim isn’t guaranteed to succeed. Having an experienced attorney on your side is key for maximizing your chances of getting the benefits you’re owed.

Unions Can Also Provide Additional Benefits to Injured Workers

In addition to being eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, many union workers are also eligible to receive money through their unions’ welfare funds. These funds distribute money for things such as health care, dental care, paid leave, retirement/pension, unemployment, disability payments, life insurance, and work-related injury costs.

We Help Union and Non-Union Members Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Workers’ compensation claims are complex, regardless of union status. But if you are a union member and get hurt on the job, it’s especially important to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney help you through the application process. That’s because you may be subject to additional requirements for getting your claim approved, and as with non-union applications, one small mistake or oversight in your application can result in a delay at best and a rejection at worst.

The legal team at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy cares about Ohio’s workers, especially when they get injured on the job. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll collect evidence that proves your injury occurred at work, and we’ll work hard to get you the money you’re entitled to receive.

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