Union members injured at work should take note of any special procedures they need to follow in filing a workers’ compensation claim. Trade unions often form with the goal of improving safety in the workplace and wages for members. But when it comes to workplace injuries, the union may not be your first resource.
If an injured employee is a union member, the employer must provide a copy of the First Report of Injury to the union. Generally the employee has no obligation to notify the union of the injury or get the union involved (but it depends on the union; see below). It is the employee’s responsibility, not the union’s, to follow up on the claim and engage an attorney. This is a different procedure than for most disputes in unionized workplaces.
Unions can help injured employees in a few ways. Sometimes the union steward provides guidance to an employee unfamiliar with the workers’ compensation system. The union can help ensure the employee receives medical care in a timely fashion.
In addition, the union can hold open the employee’s job until he or she recovers and can return to work. This usually occurs if the collective bargaining agreement specifies that the job must be held open.
Finally, the union can review the First Report of Injury to determine if a safety issue arose for the employee that caused or contributed to the accident. If so, the union can advocate for better safety practices, protective workwear, and training to avoid similar injuries in the future.
In the construction industry, labor organizations created the Union Construction Workers’ Compensation Program. The program is a “binding alternative claim administration system through collective bargaining”. In other words, it acts as an alternative to Minnesota’s regular workers’ compensation system. Construction workers can consult the program for information about filing a workers’ compensation claim. The program aims to facilitate quick resolution of claims to allow workers to receive the medical care they need and get back to work.
Minnesota law allows other unions to create “carve-out” programs similar to the Union Construction Workers’ Compensation Program. Union workers should familiarize themselves with the workers’ compensation system applicable to them, particularly if it is a carve-out program. These programs may have alternative reporting requirements for injury claims.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.