Labor law has been a cornerstone of Littler’s practice since the firm’s inception nearly 70 years ago. We have a long and successful history of handling every aspect of management representation in labor matters, serving employers as a strong counterpoint to the world’s most powerful labor organizations.
Although union membership has declined in recent years, the labor movement remains one of the most powerful forces in today’s workplace. Unions have become more sophisticated in their organizing methods and have the strong support of various political groups and a reconfigured National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Our successful track record and exclusive focus on labor and employment issues have set the standard for management representation in labor matters over the past seven decades. We provide legal advice to companies as they devise and implement strategies for lawful union avoidance and for dealing with conventional organizing campaigns and unconventional corporate campaign tactics.
We assist companies in planning for and conducting successful union negotiations. Using remedies available through the NLRB and the courts, we help companies counter strikes, picketing and boycotting activity. We assist companies in responding to grievances and in handling grievances in the arbitration process.
With our unmatched experience, size and geographic scope, we can respond quickly and effectively to virtually any labor problem and craft state-of-the-art answers to complex issues. We design our strategies to meet the distinct needs of our clients, never losing sight of their business goals, philosophies and best interests.
One of the most challenging issues companies face is collective bargaining. Collective bargaining agreements establish wages, hours, promotions, benefits, and other employment terms, as well as procedures for handling disputes arising under the negotiated employment terms and conditions. As companies face economic challenges, negotiating wage and benefits issues with unions can sometimes become acrimonious. Littler attorneys have negotiated union contracts with most of the major unions for more than 70 years.
The keys to a successful negotiation are developing bargaining goals and preparing bargaining proposals, developing and implementing bargaining strategies, including multi-employer bargaining, and analyzing the union’s bargaining action plan and preparing defensive tactics.
When a company is successful in negotiations, a collective bargaining agreement can safeguard a company’s labor costs, maintain and contribute to company profits, and ensure the organization’s competitive edge.
Grievance and Arbitration
Collective bargaining agreements generally have grievance and arbitration provisions that provide swift and relatively inexpensive dispute resolution. Littler attorneys work with clients to analyze the impact of grievance, select arbitrators, develop arbitration strategies, and prepare, present and argue the company’s case. Littler has experience with arbitrators across the country -- a significant benefit to the arbitrator research and selection process.
In the event of unsuccessful collective bargaining a union may initiate any one of several labor actions to try to gain leverage. Should the union decide to strike, Littler can guide companies through the strike preparation process by developing a plan that will help keep operations running and ensure business continuity. Littler is well-versed in using available remedies through the NLRB and courts to prevent and address illegal strike activities, including mass and secondary picketing. Littler’s extensive experience in strike management can help our clients minimize the impact of union strike activity.
Proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board can encompass unfair labor practices, representation proceedings and compliance proceedings. Successful resolution of these proceedings requires a deep understanding of the motivations and actions of administrative law judges and the Board. Because Littler has handled thousands of matters before the NLRB and our attorneys have developed strong working relationships with the Board and regional personnel, our attorneys can deftly navigate unfair labor practice claims and petitions pertaining to union elections and modifications and decertifications of bargaining units. In fact, many Littler attorneys began their legal careers as Board counsel. If dismissal or resolution of charges cannot be obtained at the administrative level, Littler is prepared to provide trial and appellate services to handle litigation before the NLRB and federal courts. Littler will also bring unfair labor practice charges against unions on behalf of clients to prevent or end unlawful union activity.
Public Sector Labor Relations
According to a 2010 study from the Department of Labor, the union membership rate for public sector workers (36.2%) was substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9%). Because of budget deficits at the local, state and federal levels, relations with public sector unions have become demanding and often politically charged. Littler’s experience working with elected officials and administrative managers to determine the public entity’s financial and service priorities helps clients make strategic decisions during collective bargaining to achieve their goals. Whenever possible, Littler focuses on negotiations at the bargaining table to reduce costs, maintain better employee relations and secure favorable outcomes.
Railway Labor Act
The Railway Labor Act became federal law in 1926 with the active support of labor and management in the railway industry. In 1936, the Act was extended to the U.S. airline industry. Today, Littler attorneys work with airlines, derivative carriers, fixed-based operators and other captive vendors to help them understand their obligations and rights under the Act with respect to protecting their RLA status, negotiating collective bargaining agreements and winning and avoiding union elections.
Maintaining a union-free workplace requires effective communications with employees and knowledge of union organizing tactics, while adhering to the letter of the complex and frequently changing labor laws. Every day, Littler provides legal advice to help employers understand their legal rights and obligations as they develop preventive strategies to improve relations with employees, detect early warning signs of organizing activities, and minimize the risk of organizing campaigns.
Littler has one of the largest labor management relations legal teams in the country. We are a tight-knit team with a vast collective knowledge, providing our clients with effective and cost-saving services and an extensive set of resources.
While we excel in litigation, a hallmark of Littler’s practice is our ability to prevent workplace issues from ending up in court or administrative tribunals, sparing our clients time-consuming and costly litigation. We have one of the most comprehensive labor training programs of any law firm, providing employers with seminars, workshops and regular updates on the latest legislation, regulations and case law.
We keep our clients informed through our labor blog, timely publications and white papers that provide practical guidance on labor issues in the workplace.