Protecting Employers Since 1985

August 2014

By: Richard H. Wessels, Esq.

Client Question: We are a unionized plastics company. Do I have to consult the union before I buy some new machines for our unionized workers in the plant? What do I have to do, if anything?

Answer by Dick Wessels: What you should do is talk with me! There can be lots of twists, turns and uncertainties here. A review of your labor contract is critical. Most important would be the management rights clause, and I presume that you have one in your agreement. The strong likelihood is that buying new machines is strictly a management decision and one that can be made unilaterally. There could be issues that need to be discussed with the union, particularly if the new machines will impact job duties in a significant manner or rates of pay (piece work or hourly). Again, a review of the collective bargaining agreement will give us insight into issues that might be out there, and we can then plan accordingly.

Questions? Call Attorney Dick Wessels of Wessels Sherman’s St. Charles, Illinois office: 630-377-1554 or email him at

Readers are invited to submit their labor law questions for possible use in this column. Just email your questions to Dick Wessels at Your identity (and your company’s identity) will not be revealed if your question is selected by Dick Wessels for this column.

“Ask Your Labor Lawyer” is our very popular column written by Dick Wessels who is Founder and Senior Shareholder of Wessels Sherman. He is a nationally recognized labor attorney and has been honored as an Illinois Super Lawyer. Dick handles a wide variety of labor and employment law cases. His primary focus is dealing with labor unions, either on behalf of union-free companies or where unions already have representation rights. Dick has handled cases involving nearly all international unions for companies throughout the United States.

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