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TAG Files RC Petitions; No Surprises Act; COVID and Religious Exemptions; ILO: New Rights at Work

Updated: Jul 18

July 1, 2022

ATTORNEY SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL FEINBERG


Michael Feinberg has spent every day of his 43-year legal career at Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers fighting for unions so that they can in turn empower their members and achieve the respect and dignity owed to them on the job. When asked about his long tenure at the firm he remarked, “I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve never had to sacrifice my own principles. We fight the good fight and work on behalf of progressive clients to help create real change in the lives of working people and their families.”

Michael credits his parents with initiating him into the world of the progressive movement and labor unions. His father was a life-long activist who worked as a union organizer with the Office Workers in his youth. His mother, who devoted herself to many progressive fights, worked as a school nurse and was an active union member. “My parents took us to picket lines, rallies and demonstrations. We were raised singing union folk songs.” Today, his favorite movement ballad is still “Talking Union” by Pete Seeger. In 1963, his folks took Michael and his sister, Schwartz, Steinsapir’s own Margo Feinberg, to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, alongside a contingent of the United Auto Workers, where they heard Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his famous “I have a dream” speech. In graduate school, Michael focused on American labor history, specifically, the role of trade unions and the American left. However, upon graduating, he wasn’t keen on locking up his principles in the ivory tower. He wanted to get to work helping the labor movement thrive—and that’s what he has been doing ever since. “Michael’s empathy, kindness, and tenacity make him a true worker’s lawyer. The members of our union clients appreciate his breadth of experience and professionalism while truly connecting with him on a one-to-one level,” remarked Schwartz Steinsapir partner Daniel Curry. Michael relishes the chance to work with union members directly. When asked if he could pick one proudest moment of his career, Michael declined. He preferred not to point to any one of his many legal victories, which include restoring 180 million dollars to schoolteachers’ pensions, defending union clients from attacks by the National Right to Work Committee and other union busters, fighting for the right of workers to organize, and opposing the encroachment of subcontracting on the hard-won job security of workers in unionized shops. Instead, he reflected on a magnum opus composed of meaningful change for individual union members: returning workers to their jobs after unjust dismissals and improper layoffs, opposing racial, sexual and LBGTQ+ discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and protecting hard-fought benefits for both private and public sector employees from management breaches of contract and demands for concessions at the bargaining table. These days, Michael’s diligence and congeniality are primarily being put to work for union members in the film and television industry. He serves as outside counsel for the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Editors Guild IATSE Local 700, and The Animation Guild IATSE Local 839 (TAG). For the last several months, he has participated in the TAG negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The tentative agreement, which is currently awaiting ratification by the membership, demonstrates the power rippling through the cohesive unit of animators—there were no concessions. After the final ratification tally, Animators could see significant wage increases, and the Guild could win language significantly limiting the ability of the Producers to remove members of its bargaining unit through individual remote work agreements, among other superlative provisions. “There is a misconception among the general public that workers’ support for the labor movement is limited to those paid low wages. In the entertainment industry, however, while employees may receive relatively higher hourly wages compared to other sectors, they strongly value their unions given that so many of them endure alternating periods of seemingly endless work hours and unemployment. They know that with their Guilds, in addition to fair compensation, they can gain safety on the job, fair treatment, job security, and reasonable work schedules. The solidarity among the Hollywood Guild members is amplified by a strong community of interest and historic victories,” Michael remarked. When Michael surveys the lay of the land, like many union lawyers, he sees a country where the deck is stacked against working people, and he’s made it his mission to empower unions to level the playing field. To that end, Michael is currently awaiting final approval of a settlement from the Los Angeles Superior Court for a class of over 1,000 Albertsons and Vons workers who were unjustly denied their pay for months. The approval is expected in July. Michael Feinberg can be reached at mrf@ssdslaw.com.

 

THE ANIMATION GUILD SEEKS TO REPRESENT PRODUCTION WORKERS ON SIMPSONS, FAMILY GUY, AND AMERICAN DAD!


TAG filed three representation petitions with the National Labor Relations Board at the beginning of June showing that a supermajority of production workers for three separate 20th Television Animation productions desired to be represented by the Guild. The push at 20th Television Animation, a subsidiary of Disney, follows a wave of Animation Guild organizing victories at the shows Solar Opposites and Rick and Morty, as well as at Titmouse L.A., Titmouse N.Y., and six productions at ShadowMachine. Read more about TAG’s expanded organizing efforts here. Michael Feinberg represents TAG before the NLRB and in achieving recognition agreements in its new organizing campaigns.

 

JULY 1ST MARKS BEGINNING OF ENFORCEMENT FOR SOME 2021 LAWS


This year has seen group health plans, insurance companies, hospitals, medical service providers, and others begin implementation of the No Surprises Act, passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019. Key benefits and responsibilities of the No Surprises Act include some items which have become effective for many health plans:

  • No balance billing for out-of-network emergency services, as well as a resolution system for disagreements about payment of out-of-network emergency service providers.

  • No balance billing for non-emergency services provided by out-of-network health care providers providing services to a patient during visits to in-network health care facilities

  • In case of certain acute or chronic conditions, coverage on in-network terms is required for certain continuing care from providers who are no longer in-network

  • Plans must improve the accuracy of network provider directory information and provide coverage on in-network terms if inaccurate information results in use of out-of-network coverage.

Other significant provisions of the No Surprises Act include:

  • No balance billing for covered air ambulance services by out-of-network air ambulance providers.

  • "Advance Explanation of Benefits" required to be provided prior to scheduled care or upon patient request.

  • Web site disclosure of in-network provider rates for covered items and services, out-of-network allowed amounts and billed charges for covered items and services, out-of-network allowed amounts and billed charges for covered items and services and negotiated rates and historical net prices for covered prescription drugs, in machine-readable format.

  • Future regulations to implement provider non-discrimination provided under Affordable Care Act.

Please contact Rich Swartz at rms@ssdslaw.com with any questions concerning NSA compliance.

 

A NEW COVID-19 VACCINE CLEARS FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE, WHICH COULD TRIGGER REASSESSMENT OF RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS


Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is developed, manufactured, and produced without any human fetal-derived cell lines or tissues. This means that employees with religious exemptions based on this line of objection may soon have a vaccine option compatible with their religious beliefs. To be clear, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines do not contain any fetal cells; however, laboratory-grown cell lines descended from fetuses that were aborted decades ago were used in some early stage testing and development for the vaccines. On June 9th, the Novavax vaccine cleared a preliminary committee, but has not yet been cleared by the FDA. The date by which it may receive approval is not yet known. Clients with questions about the implications of the vaccine’s availability should contact Amy Cu at amc@ssdslaw.com.

 

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION ADDS HEALTH AND SAFETY TO FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND RIGHTS AT WORK


For the first time since 1998, the ILO recognized a new international convention—the fundamental right to a healthy and safe workplace. The ILO is a United Nations agency that sets baseline standard for workers worldwide. ILO member states commit to respect and promote the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the framework to which the right to a healthy and safe workplace was codified. Nearly, 2.8 million people die each year because of work-related injuries and disease. Read more here: https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_848132/lang--en/index.htm

 

UNION BUILDS COMMUNITY CENTER TO ADDRESS NEEDS OF ITS MEMBERS IN DODGE CITY, KS


On June 3, 2022, United Food and Commercial Workers District Union Local 2 celebrated the opening of its state-of-the-art community center in Dodge City, Kansas to be used by the City’s sizable population of meatpacking workers. “It was inspiring to attend UFCW Local 2’s grand opening of the Mike Bellinger Community Center in Dodge City. The Community Center was packed with Local 2 staff, Union stewards and members from meatpacking plants in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, a local youth soccer team, members of the local community, and others,” said SSDS partner Alejandro Delgado, who attended the event with Margo Feinberg. The jam-packed schedule of events included speeches by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Local 2 President Martin Rosas, the youth soccer team’s presentation of team jerseys to Governor Kelly and President Rosas, recognizing Union members who recently became U.S. citizens through the Local’s citizenship workshop, and a health and safety training by OSHA. This celebration was a small preview of the many ways that Local 2 will use the Center to build community and worker power and improve the lives of its members and their families in southwest Kansas. “Helping Local 2 navigate through some of the legal issues and challenges that arose in the course of making their vision for the Community Center a reality was a privilege and a pleasure and is exactly the kind of project that is at the heart of what we do at Schwartz, Steinsapir,” remarked Delgado. Read more coverage here.



 

ABORTION RIGHTS ARE WORKERS’ RIGHTS


Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers will continue to monitor the intersection between new Supreme Court jurisprudence and economic justice. AFL-CIO Affirms the Right of Everyone to Make Their Own Health Care Choices


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