Labor Relations and Union Avoidance

Our labor relations practice represents management only in all aspects of labor relations. Through practice focus, our lawyers are immersed each day in the issues that they regularly work on with clients around the country in both right-to-work and non-right-to-work states. We understand the value of managing labor relations in competitive and distressed industries. Our clients range from Fortune 100 companies and large private equity backed businesses, to community health centers and municipalities. We have serviced clients in manufacturing, health care, human services, paper, fuel oil, pharmaceutical, insurance/financial, construction, hospitality, gaming, elevator, aerospace and governmental industries.

Our labor lawyers counsel, advise and represent unionized clients in developing corporate-wide, multifacility labor relations strategies. We negotiate collective bargaining agreements and represent our clients in contract administration, grievance handling and arbitration, strike consultation, and National Labor Relations Board and court proceedings. We handle unfair labor practice and representation proceedings before the NLRB and state labor relations agencies. We advise our clients in contract campaigns and in lawfully communicating with employees to attain bargaining and operational objectives. We assist our clients in structuring the labor relations aspects of transactions, including purchase and sale transactions, mergers, consolidations, subcontracting, work relocations and divestitures to accomplish corporate objectives. We assist our clients in navigating the complexities of multiemployer pension liability and other employee benefits issues in the context of transactions, collective bargaining and operations.

Our practitioners advise our employer clients with nonunionized operations in union-free strategies and with respect to organizing, picketing, hand-billing, demands for recognition through card check, corporate campaigns and NLRB elections and related proceedings. We have been involved in matters ranging from single location elections, to elections involving multiple unions and operations across several states.

Our firm routinely advises clients in dealing with issues of multiemployer fund withdrawal liability. Our labor lawyers partner with our ERISA attorneys on corporate deals and in rendering advice on withdrawal liability matters. Many of our clients come from the trucking, industrial, or construction industry and are parties to multiemployer funds. Recently, we advised a construction company through withdrawal liability issues and potential applicability of the construction industry exemption to withdrawal liability through a sale of assets in Indiana and Michigan. We advised another client in Kansas on how to gradually minimize the size of its unionized workforce to avoid incurring a partial withdrawal. We are currently litigating a multiemployer withdrawal liability case in Manhattan regarding the applicability of the sale of assets exemption.

As a dedicated labor relations practice within a full service regional law firm, we regularly partner with and draw upon the resources and experience of our firm's other practices, including our health care/regulatory, commercial real estate, corporate, environmental (including environmental health & safety), governmental incentives, criminal, trial and appellate, governmental relations and incentives, ERISA and employee benefits, and municipal finance practices. As part of coordinated teams, our labor practitioners are able to add significant value for clients as they work to attain their business and management objectives.

    • Experience
      • Counseled numerous employers, including recently an international chemical manufacturer, on labor relations strategy involving a permanent plant facility closure.

      • Represented and counseled health care employer during a successful decertification petition and election campaign involving a SEIU local union.

      • Prevailed in grievance arbitration involving the discharge for cause of a thirty-three year SEIU delegate.

      • Have served as chief spokeperson and lead negotiator in numerous negotiations that have involved the termination of defined benefit retirement plans.

      • Successfully defended company in labor arbitration against a claim that the Union had the right to take union stewards away from work for Union business without notification to or approval from the company.

         

      • Assisted manufacturing client in the successful decertification a 30-year bargaining relationship with the International Association of Machinists.
      • Served as lead negotiator for a large unionized heating oil and air conditioning company in a highly contentious negotiation of a successor agreement with a local affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Achieved bargaining goals of obtaining operational flexibility and nonstandard work shifts to cut down on excessive overtime and standby costs, while keeping labor cost increases within reasonable levels. Contractual changes to date have led to the attainment of operational efficiencies and better utilization of personnel, enabling the company to operate on a continuous basis during its peak season and to respond to changing customer and market demands without incurring contractual penalties.
      • Served as chief negotiator for Connecticut manufacturing company during negotiations to renew a labor agreement with the United Auto Workers. The company was able to negotiate a wage freeze in year one, with a two percent wage increase in the second and third years of the contract. In addition, there were numerous language changes implemented to allow the company to compete on a global basis.
      • Advised a construction manager concerning mass organizational picketing by four trade unions at a major shopping mall construction site, which included threats of violence and intimidation by picketers and unlawful objects of picketing. Succeeded in obtaining a temporary injunction in state court that limited the picketing and convinced Region 34 of the National Labor Relations Board that the picketing violated the NLRA. Our representation of the client resulted in a hiatus of picketing that has lasted more than seven months.
      • Assisted Indian tribe engaged in casino operations in connection with a federal court injunction proceeding, where a union seeking to represent the tribe’s employees sought to force the State to close sections of a state highway providing access to the property on the date of the grand opening of a new casino/hotel/entertainment complex. In less than fifteen hours, prepared motions to intervene, a brief opposing the requested relief and prepared witnesses for court trial. The lawsuit was withdrawn without hearing avoiding any disruption to casino operations.
      • Defended state bar association in connection with a Section 8(a)(3) charge brought by an alleged employee-organizer who was terminated for performance reasons. Following submission of a detailed position letter and evidence, the charging party withdrew the charge to avoid the region’s dismissal of the case.
      • Represented a major multistate food service and distribution franchisee in the strategic acquisition of Teamsters. Represented facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Within 120 days of the acquisition, as a result of our representation and assistance, positioned the client to operate all four units union free.
      • Representation of a quasi-governmental public health entity before the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations involving the appropriateness of a bargaining unit in a representation election. Negotiated the initial collective bargaining agreement covering all nonsupervisory personnel. Continued representation regarding contract administration and grievance issues.
      • Prevailed in labor arbitration regarding contract interpretation and involving the discipline of two employees who left work early because the Union claimed that the collective bargaining agreement established a maximum workweek.

      • Representation of a municipal board of police commissioners in a grievance arbitration brought by a police officer who received a 90-day, unpaid disciplinary suspension.

      • Representation of a governmental entity through planning, trial, and appeals of a legal challenge to the entity's ordered conversion of health insurance offerings for retirees who had retired under long-expired collective bargaining agreements, which resulted in a groundbreaking Connecticut Supreme Court decision permitting the conversion.

      • Representation of a public-private partnership with the State of Connecticut in the process of bidding and negotiating a management agreement with the Connecticut Department of Transportation to manage its rest areas. Robinson+Cole assisted the client in achieving compliance with state contracting requirements, standard wage laws and handling labor relations matters. Robinson+Cole also assisted the client in avoiding tail end withdrawal if the contractor ceased performing cleaning and maintenance services on the properties.

      • Assisted a municipal Water Pollution Control Authority in developing policies and procedures, counseling the Authority on hiring issues, and in advising the Authority on labor and employment issues, negotiating an initial collective bargaining agreement covering operational and clerical personnel, and represented them in proceedings before the State Board of Labor Relations.

      • Assisted a municipal Water Pollution Control Authority with the labor relations issues involving a subcontract of its WCPA operations and possible transition to the municipality after the subcontract terminates.

      • Representation of a quasi-governmental entity before the State Board of Labor Relations involving the appropriateness of a bargaining unit in a representation election. Negotiated the initial collective bargaining agreement covering all non-supervisory personnel. Continued representation regarding contract administration and grievance issues.

      • Defended a municipal client before the State Board of Labor Relations by reaffirming its right to subcontract bargaining unit work in two separate challenges. The two cases were withdrawn during the investigation phase, as a result of our compelling arguments in favor of the municipality's right to subcontract.

      • Successfully negotiated numerous municipal collective bargaining agreements that addressed management objectives involving cost containment in the areas of pension, health insurance, overtime, salary schedules, and call-in pay.

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    • News
      • August 15, 2017

        Fifty-Nine Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018

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      • August 15, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2017

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      • August 18, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016

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      • May 15, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Boosts Metro New York Employment Practice with Addition of 30-Year Labor Pro

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      • October 21, 2013

        Super Lawyers® Names 61 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2013 List

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      • September 13, 2013

        Nicole Bernabo Appointed to Lead CBA's Labor and Employment Law Section

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      • January 23, 2013

        Employment & Labor Lawyers Host Webinar on Employees' NLRA Section 7 Rights in a Nonunionized Environment

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      • December 21, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Appointed to Board of Directors of Nonprofits

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      • December 13, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Earn Additional Honors for Pro Bono Work

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      • August 28, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

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      • June 30, 2012

        Theodore J. Tucci to Participate in the Metro Hartford Alliance’s Panel Discussion on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling on Health Care Reform

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      • May 31, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Expands Labor & Employment Practice with Addition of Three New Attorneys

      • May 22, 2012

        Labor and Employment Attorney Coaches Fifth Graders in Mock Trial

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      • May 17, 2012

        Labor and Employment Attorney’s Article Discusses Court Decisions Impacting the National Labor Relations Act Employer Posting Rule

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      • May 14, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Welcomes Twelve New Attorneys in Five Offices Expanding its Presence across the Northeast

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      • November 21, 2011

        Attorneys Write Articles Published in Connecticut Law Tribune Special Section on Employment and Immigration Law

      • July 25, 2011

        Nicole Bernabo Moderates Panel on Arbitration in Employment Disputes

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      • February 14, 2011

        Labor and Employment Associate Shares the Ins and Outs of a Legal Career with High School Students

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      • August 26, 2010

        Reflecting on Workplace Safety Procedures

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      • April 14, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Appointed as Contributing Editor for American Bar Association's Developing Labor Law Publication

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      • November 13, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Partner Speaks at First Annual SPPON Trustee Symposium

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      • August 20, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Announces New Anti-Harassment Training Program

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    • Publications + Presentations
    • General Counsel's New Standard on Intermittent Strikes, Another Untenable Position for Employers, authored by Natale V. Di Natale (October 10, 2016)

      NLRB Revised Election Rules Set to Take Effect in April (3/5/2015)

      Looking Forward to 2014 for Manufacturers/Distributors (01/21/2014)

      Check out our Manufacturing Law Blog (09/10/2013)

      "Dodging the “U” Word: Your Organization’s Guide to Union Avoidance," (1/28/2013)

      NLRB Rules Witness Statements Must Be Provided to Unions (01/14/2013)

      "Employees’ NLRA Section 7 Rights in a Nonunionized Environment," co-presented by Nicole A. Bernabo and Peter A. Dagostine, Robinson & Cole webinar (1/10/2013)

      "Nonsolicitation/Distribution Policies,"
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      NLRB Rules Several Common Workplace Policies Violate the NLRA (10/31/2012)

      NLRB Finds Hospital's No-Access Policy for Off-Duty Employees Unlawful (07/16/2012)

      NLRB General Counsel Issues Social Media Policy Guidance (06/07/2012)

      "Court Decisions Postpone NLRA Notice Posting Rule," published in Connecticut Law Tribune, authored by Nicole A. Bernabo (4/23/2012)

      "New Rules Would Affect Consultants to Employers: Law Firms, Others Would Have To Report Activities Involving Union Issues," published in Connecticut Law Tribune, authored by Nicole A. Bernabo (10/31/2011)

      "Arbitration in Employment Disputes," presented by Nicole A. Bernabo, moderated panel at Connecticut Bar Association Annual Meeting (6/23/2011)

      "Big Brother, Hidden Cameras & Other Surveillance in the Workplace," at Massachusetts Bar Association Luncheon Roundtable, presented by Jeffrey M. Feuer, Esq., and David R. Kerrigan, Assistant Attorney General (1/11/2006)
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      Labor and Employment in Connecticut: A Guide to Employment Laws, Regulations, and Practices, authored by Jeffrey L. Hirsch (2006, 2007)

      Labor and Employment in Rhode Island

      Labor and Employment in Connecticut, assisted by Effie Aquila Patrick

      Labor and Employment in Massachusetts

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