Labor Law Clinic Students Win Settlement for Worker Fired for Union Activities Ithaca, NEW YORK, May 29, 2018
Labor Law Clinic students Michael Iadevaia ’19, David Edelman ’18, and Matt Lutwen ’19 recently won a settlement for their client, Jane Guskin, in a case before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Guskin, who had worked at a nonprofit in New York City for over twenty-four years, had been fired for union-related activity. Guskin had been instrumental in forming a union, starting collective bargaining, and processing grievances on behalf of her coworkers.
Representing their client before the NLRB was a time-consuming endeavor for the students. The case involved significant client interaction and counseling, drafting a position statement to file with the NLRB that organized the facts and legal authority, interviewing witnesses and preparing them for their NLRB affidavit, dealing with the NLRB lawyer who was investigating the charge, interacting with opposing counsel, and ultimately negotiating the settlement when the NLRB decided to issue a complaint. The students were supervised by Professor Angela Cornell, who directs the clinic.
Per the settlement, Guskin received two years of combined back and front pay, her disciplinary record was expunged, and the organization was required to post a notice informing others of the transgression with a commitment not to violate the law.
"I am incredibly grateful for the hard work that Professor Cornell and her students put into helping me win a fair settlement," said Guskin. "Getting unjustly fired from a job I held for over twenty-four years was really tough. Having the support of the Labor Law Clinic made all the difference. Matthew, Michael, and David put in countless hours reviewing evidence and drafting legal arguments, and made themselves available day and night to patiently explain how the system works and talk me through the process."
Matt Lutwen said that "working on the Muste Union's case through its resolution was not only a phenomenal learning experience, but also one of the most meaningful experiences I have had in law school. The work showed me just how important the NLRA's protections are for employees who exercise their collective rights."
Following a lengthy struggle, the union at the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute signed its first collective bargaining agreement after the settlement was reached.
"Jane and her story keep me optimistic, but proves that we need to continue to advocate on behalf of workers, educate workers on their rights, and work together to advance workplace justice," said Iadavaia.