Professional Background, Education, Training and Experience
Jeffrey Cutler is a partner in the Wohlner Kaplon Cutler Halford Rosenfeld & Levy law firm which specializes in the representation of unions and workers in all industries. Jeff graduated from San Francisco State in 1977. He received his Juris Doctorate from Southwestern University School of Law in 1981. Jeff has dedicated his entire professional career to representing working men and women in all aspects of their employment fighting for justice on their behalf. Since 1982, his practice has been devoted to representing Labor Unions and Taft-Hartley Trust Funds. He has extensive experience representing clients before the National Labor Relations Board, in State and Federal Court litigation, in arbitration, in negotiations and providing advice and guidance in internal union affairs. Jeff believes the labor movement is vital to protecting fair wages, benefits, and working conditions for working men and women and is proud to serve the firm’s clients in obtaining these objectives.
What is your view on the current state of our union’s sustainability?
First, I would like to thank the IGUA for giving me an opportunity to speak at the convention. Representing IGUA members at many sites over the years has been one of the highlights of my career. IGUA members play a prominent role in the security of our country whose dedication to their missions is second to none. It has been a privilege to work with the IGUA to improve members’ wages, benefits and working conditions through collective bargaining.
Recent organizing campaigns at Amazon and Starbucks demonstrate the labor movement is alive and well. Like many other institutions, Unions must adapt to changing work environments, economic times, politics and laws. Today’s workforce is vastly different from workforces in the past. Unions must tap into the issues that are important and relevant to today’s workers. These recent highly publicized organizing campaigns along with many unpublicized organizing campaigns show there is real worker interest in bettering wages, benefits and working conditions through collective bargaining . I remain optimistic Unions will continue to play a significant role in the lives of many working men and women.
What are some of the major challenges facing the union in maintaining its relevance?
To keep Unions remaining relevant, we must educate members on the importance of being involved with and supporting their union. At their core, unions are grassroots organizations that rely on membership support for their strength. When the union movement emerged in the 1930s,members were very active and involved in the affairs of their union. To varying degrees, new generations of union members have become complacent, some believing that union membership alone guarantees results. Energizing members to become more involved in their union is key to keeping unions relevant and strong.
What are some of the best practices for unions to continue, or begin, to initiate?
Good Union practices include understanding the various and changing governmental regulatory requirements that affect every aspect of the organization. Union Officers should familiarize themselves with legal governance and reporting requirements to assure that their union is compliant with current laws and regulations. For that purpose, I recommend Union Officers take advantage of educational programs and seminars on union governance and administrative requirements. In addition, it is recommended that Unions periodically review their Constitution and By-Laws to make sure they are up to date and being followed.
How do you successfully negotiate a contract?
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! Preparations for upcoming negotiations should be organized and begin early. The first step is to identify issues that are most important to members. Once these issues are identified, it is important to gather information that relates to these issues – including evaluating economic and non-economic impacts. This includes seeking information from employers though requests for information and gathering information from outside sources. It is also important to put together an initial bargaining strategy, understanding that bargaining strategies will evolve based on how bargaining progresses. Early on and throughout negotiations, there needs to be effective communication with members to assure member buy in and support of bargaining positions and strategies. At the bargaining table, it is important to remain engaged and be open to creative solutions when you hit difficult issues. With hard work and good preparations, you will put yourselves in the best position to have bargaining success.