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Michael Moberg, Jackson Lewis P.C.
Michael Moberg, Jackson Lewis P.C.

The POWER 30: Michael Moberg

Things are looking up for unions, according to Michael Moberg, a partner at Jackson Lewis, one of the largest labor and employment firms in the country. It has had an office in Minneapolis for about 20 years and has 11 lawyers here, representing employers.

Historically, cultural or social uncertainty has increased interest in labor unions. Uncertainty marks the United States as it deals with a deadly pandemic, business shutdowns, labor shortages and the task of getting restarted again. So it isn’t surprising to Moberg that now is the time for a push by organized labor, with the support of a like-minded president.

“This is one of the best opportunities organized labor has had in a long time,” said Moberg.

Two big changes are on the horizon, he said. One is the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, as other lawyers have pointed out. Among other things, it would expand penalties against those violating labor laws and would increase union revenue by banning right-to-work provisions in states because right-to-work means the right not to pay union dues. It would also prohibit companies from permanently replacing strikers or locking employees out. There are many more provisions in the bill but the gist of it is clear.

“Labor unions would rejoice if they can get anything like the PRO Act passed,” Moberg said.  It has passed in the House of Representatives but not the Senate.

Now is the time for employers to take stock and make sure they are offering the best workplace to employees, Moberg advised. Supervisors and managers should be well-trained and ready to deal with organizing. They should be communicating well with employees because unions are not just about wages, he said. “Unions have a lot to do with how employees are treated.”

While the employers and unions are building a solid relationship, so are their lawyers, Moberg said. “You’re dealing with people and human relationships. You see the same people time and time again. You have to build relationships and work together and figure out how to work with one another.”

Moberg said the labor and employment bar is made up of high-quality lawyers. “It’s a good group, and that makes it fun,” he said. But “you can’t play games.”