Too often companies allow festering problems with employees (both unionized and non-unionized) to reach a crisis point. They then face the harsh reality of bitter emotions, negative publicity, disrupted operations and lost revenues.
Our labor and employment attorneys help clients take a positive and creative approach to relationship management to avoid these confrontations. We study the causes of employee dissatisfaction and assess current labor contracts and employment policies to identify areas of vulnerability.
We examine the personalities and policies of workforce leaders and take the pulse of employee sentiment. Then, we apply our collective experience and knowledge to resolve issues before they become serious problems. We may, among other things, recommend changes to policies and agreements, address communication challenges, position new initiatives and, where appropriate, lay the groundwork for productive negotiations.
Whether they are working to contain the seeds of union activity or union expansion or dealing with difficult union leadership, our clients’ management teams rely on our experience to help them assess critical issues, develop decisive and principled strategies and anticipate outcomes. We work hard to get “in tune” with our clients’ needs and goals and then find ways to achieve those goals, with or without a union, through negotiations or otherwise.
Union Contract Negotiations & Administration
A union contract defines the terms and conditions of employment for bargaining unit members. The successful negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement depends on the ability to record the parties’ intentions. The implementation and application of these negotiated provisions is complex. It is critical that employers preserve their rights and retain what was achieved during negotiations.
Our labor and employment lawyers possess considerable experience in representing and counseling clients in negotiations and contract administration in both the public and the private sector. Our role in each negotiation is tailored to our clients’ individual needs and objectives. Depending on the financial and operational needs of our clients, we serve as chief negotiators, bargaining committee members and/or “back room” advisers and strategists during negotiations.
Our familiarity with contract language that protects the employer’s interests, as well as our understanding of how arbitrators are likely to apply certain contract language, helps our clients maintain their operational needs without compromising their business objections. During negotiations, our role includes drafting proposed contract language, reviewing proposals from the union and developing strategy not only for contract negotiation but also for contract execution that minimizes disruption to the normal course of business.
Our representation does not end when a bargaining unit ratifies its final agreement. Once an agreement is in place, our attorneys provide training to managers and supervisors to ensure the uniform administration of the agreement. During the term of the contract, we assist labor relations professionals in administering the contract and responding to union grievances challenging the company’s application of the contract. We also represent our clients in arbitration proceedings, including helping them select the right arbitrator.