June 2022 Conference Scheduled

Scott Kamins

Professional Background, Education, Training and Experience

 

Mr. Kamins focuses his practice in the areas of labor and employment law. He serves as the Practice Group Leader for the Labor and Employment Practice Group at Offit Kurman. He has served as chief spokesperson and lead negotiator in over 500 collective bargaining agreement in many industries throughout the United States, and in Canada and Puerto Rico, including dozens in the security industry.  Mr. Kamins counsels on a day-to-day basis on strategies for interpreting and maximizing rights under collective bargaining agreements, terminations and investigations, and all other aspects of the employment relationship.  In his litigation practice, Mr. Kamins arbitrates labor matters involving discharge, discipline and collective bargaining agreement interpretation, and conducts employment arbitrations pursuant to arbitration agreements.  He has served as lead trial attorney in state and federal courts throughout the United States in employment disputes including claims of discrimination, wrongful discharge, breach of restrictive covenant agreements and other employment agreements, and enforcing arbitration agreements. 

Mr. Kamins graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University, and the University of Maryland School of Law, where he was Order of the Coif, which is reserved for the top 10% of the graduating class.

 

What is your view on the current state of our union's sustainability?

 

IGUA has an approach which makes it unique among all Unions in all industries, and should position it very well to not only sustain, but to grow in the future.  IGUA provides education, support and resources to bargaining units seeking to be unionized in the security industry – all hallmarks of typical unions.  There is one major difference, however – most of the dues money paid remains with the bargaining unit.  With this approach, the individual bargaining units have the resources and structure to be able to enjoy self-governance, including being able to funnel resources not to high paid Union Officers who do little for them, but to their own representation efforts.  Provided this approach is effectively marketed with good organizing strategies, and the Local Unions have ample access to International provided training so that they can learn how to self-govern and represent their interests, this can be an unbeatable approach.

 

What are some of the major challenges facing the union in maintaining its relevance?

 

IGUA is faced with the same challenge as all Unions - as market conditions drive up wages and benefits, State and Federal Governments add more employee protections, and Unions fail to stay in the public spotlight, people forget the role that Unions played in developing our economy and our workforce during the boom of the early and mid-1900’s, and that they can play important roles in protecting employee rights in the future.  In order to maintain relevance, Unions in general must target organizing and growth, and adapting to the modern media, and modern social media world, in general.  Major initiatives in organizing at Amazon and Starbucks are good examples - these efforts not only opened the door to significant corporate organizing opportunities, but they were heavily covered in the media, which furthers the message for unions. 

Like any business, you can’t just stay the same - if you aren’t growing and evolving, you shrink and die.  Organizing, social media, and the like, are key to growth, survival, and even potentially flourishing again.   

 

What are some of the best practices for unions to continue, or begin, to initiate?

 

With respect to the International, it has a great story to tell about what makes it and its approach unique and successful.  Any security officer group, particularly those working for Government Contractors, should want to know this information, and how the approach can benefit its members.  Therefore, it is critical to effectively communicate this approach and other key criteria through well trained, skilled and effective organizers, The key to success for Unions is growth; the key to growth is effective and adaptable organizing efforts. 

With respect to the Locals, they need to have strong leadership and a willingness to stand up to Management and fight for what they believe in.  The Security Company Management Teams are the equivalent of bullies - they will push the Union and the Officers around if you let them.  However, the Locals have strength and leverage.  Leverage in the form of the great CBAs they can negotiate, if they are willing to exercise their leverage and stand up to management.  Unions can strike; Management in this industry can’t afford a strike.  That is a lot of leverage to negotiate the CBA rights you need. Once the Local has the strong CBA, and enforces those rights through grievances, etc., the "tables turn". 

 

How do you successfully negotiate a contract?

 

Preparation is key.  Preparation of a good game plan, good proposals, and reasonable yet aggressive goals to achieve. Preparation of the bargaining unit, so that they have reasonable expectations, but expectations that they are willing to fight for.  There needs to be a cohesiveness among the bargaining unit, such that the bargaining team is comfortable, as needed, with communicating a willingness to take action, including strike if needed, if its reasonable demands are not met.  These security companies and the Government clients are not in a position to accept a strike; while strike threats should not be thrown around loosely, and only as needed at the most urgent and sensitive times, it is the willingness and ability to show this strength, if needed, that creates the leverage necessary to get the deal that is needed.