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Labor Management Relations and Union Avoidance

Our lawyers have broad experience counseling and representing employers in their relations with labor unions that represent or seek to represent their employees. For clients who desire to remain union-free, we advise on pro-active steps to reduce the likelihood of union organizing drives and enhance the likelihood of defeating any campaigns that are initiated. To that end, we counsel employers during union organizing drives and campaigns and establish reserve gates and other lawful means to minimize the effects of labor picketing. We are experienced in handling a variety of NLRB and litigation-related matters that arise out of election petitions, picketing, secondary boycotts and unfair labor practice charges.

For clients that have existing union relationships, we serve as chief negotiators at the bargaining table and also as outside counselors in negotiations, helping to formulate bargaining positions, drafting contract language and providing labor law advice regarding various strategies. We represent clients before the NLRB on matters involving jurisdictional disputes, decertification cases, unit clarification proceedings, secondary boycotts and a variety of other unfair labor practice charges. A number of our lawyers have substantial experience in arbitrating contract interpretation and discharge cases throughout the country under our clients’ collective bargaining agreement grievance procedures, and we maintain a detailed database of our experiences.

We also litigate labor relations cases in federal and state courts, including claims under Sections 301 and 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act, appeals from arbitration awards, injunction actions related to strikes and picketing, appeals from NLRB decisions and ERISA and related claims. While we represent clients in diverse businesses, a number of our lawyers have developed specific experience in labor-management disputes governed by the Railway Labor Act and participate in RLA proceedings before the National Mediation Board, the National Railroad Adjustment Board and public law boards, the Surface Transportation Board and the federal courts.

Some highlights of labor-management relations cases that we have successfully tried, won summary judgments, or negotiated favorable outcomes for our clients include: 

  • A case of first impression involving a major power company in which the Illinois Collective Bargaining Successor Employer Act was found to be preempted by federal labor laws. As a result, the purchaser in a transaction was not required by state law to assume the terms of the seller’s labor agreement. 
  • A class action involving a major food company in which employees alleged violations of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act resulting from the shutdown and plant closing of one the defendant’s subsidiaries. As a result of rulings in the employer’s favor in advance of trial, the case ultimately was settled on terms very favorable to the employer. 
  • Collective bargaining for a significant manufacturer, including strike-related counseling that involved the hiring of permanent replacements and the successful defense of numerous unfair labor practice charges including termination of strikers for misconduct, ultimately resulting in the decertification of the union. 
  • Defeating one of the largest Teamster organizing drives in recent times for a large services company, including all legal and related campaign strategy issues and proceedings before the NLRB involving the scope of the unit and post-election objections and challenges.