Howard L. Bernstein



  • The University of Texas School of Law (J.D., 1968)
  • The University of Texas (B.B.A., 1965)

Related Services

Howard represents employers throughout the country in labor relations, employment law matters and employment-related litigation, with strong emphasis on contract negotiations, arbitrations and injunction proceedings, NLRB election campaigns, unfair labor practice cases and employment discrimination matters.

In his practice Howard develops strategies to navigate the numerous challenges employers encounter during and following acquisitions of businesses with unionized workforces. He takes a pragmatic and collaborative approach to analyzing the union relationship – the numerous personalities involved, history with previous owners, the collective bargaining agreement plus many more – and then he creates a comprehensive plan detailing every task that must be completed before and after the takeover date to ensure a seamless transition. He excels at guiding all parties involved – owners, executives, union representatives and employees – to consensus in building a team approach to produce an outcome that is positive for everyone.

A former counsel to the chairman of the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., Howard has also served as special outside labor counsel to the City of Chicago. In that capacity, he was the chief labor negotiator in the city’s negotiations with all of the unions representing the city’s employees. He has served as outside labor counsel and chief negotiator for the Chicago Board of Education and the Chicago Housing Authority, as well as for a multiemployer association of more than 100 nursing homes.

Howard was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Management Institute and is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

  • Represented worldwide meat packing company in numerous union organizing drives and NLRB unfair labor practice cases, including a multi-plant nationwide corporate campaign involving United Food & Commercial Workers International Union.
  • Served as special labor counsel and chief labor negotiator for the City of Chicago in negotiating union contracts with all unions representing City of Chicago employees, including the SEIU, AFSCME, Coalition of Construction Trades Unions, Firefighters and Fraternal Order of Police.
  • Served as labor counsel to private equity  regarding the labor aspects of acquisitions of businesses, including the negotiating of favorable new union contracts containing substantial changes in work rules, compensation and benefits.
  • Represented nationwide transportation company in multicity, multifacility attempt by Teamsters Union to “raid” 1,000 employee bargaining unit from the Machinists Union
  • Represented the Chicago Board of Education in negotiating with the Chicago Teachers Union a new collective bargaining agreement containing a two-year salary freeze, significant increase in teaching time, and the first-ever employee contribution to health care costs.
  • Represented multiemployer association of health care facilities in negotiations with the SEIU for a collective bargaining agreement covering more than 100 facilities and 7,000 employees.
  • Represented major retail chain in negotiating the successful closure of two distribution facilities and the transfer of work to two modern, efficient distribution centers, resulting in the company’s ability to serve its retail stores in a substantially less costly, more efficient manner.
  • Represented Midwest processor and distributor of grain products in contract negotiations with UFCW and lockout lasting more than two years.
  • Represented various employers throughout the country in industries such as transportation, retailing, health care, manufacturing, food processing, and distribution in union organizing drives, decertifications, and proceedings against unions including the Teamsters, Machinists, UFCW, SEIU, Steelworkers, Electrical Workers, and others.
  • Represented major appliance manufacturer in suit in federal court to vacate unfavorable arbitration award.
  • Represented companies in dealing with the unions and in the labor aspects of bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Represented the purchaser of 11 lumber mills located throughout the United States, including providing advice and counsel regarding the labor, employment and employee benefits aspects of the acquisition as well as negotiating a new and very favorable collective bargaining agreement with the union that was the collective bargaining representative of the seller’s employees.
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, recommended in “Labor & Employment” since 2006
  • The Best Lawyers in America, recommended in "Employment Law - Management" and "Labor Law - Management" since 2006
  • Illinois Super Lawyers, recommended in "Labor & Employment: Employer" since 2008
  • Named in 2002 as a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a non-profit professional association honoring the leading lawyers nationwide in the practice of labor and employment.
  • Named a Top 10 Labor Management Lawyer by Leading Lawyers for 2014 and 2018.
  • Named as one of the “Top One Hundred Labor Attorneys” in the U.S. for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 by the Labor Relations Institute, an honor representing the top one percent of labor attorneys in the country.
  • Recipient of the Distinguished Service Award presented by Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA).

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Supreme Court