At Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP, we believe that employers are in the best position to determine what is best for their company and employees. Accordingly, our job is to make sure that our clients retain the fullest possible discretion to manage their workforce in the manner they think best. Our Labor Relations practice is built around protecting that discretion. Our approach is based upon making sure we understand our clients’ business and how various workplace laws impact business goals.
Many employers operate under the mistaken assumption that a labor relations strategy is not needed if their workforce is not unionized. Nothing could be further from the truth. Non-unionized employers are covered by the same laws and regulations as unionized employers. Moreover, a strong and effective labor relations policy can help prevent the kinds of problems that lead employees to seek union representation. For employers with unionized workforces, or who are faced with union organizing, competent legal counsel is critical to navigate the campaigning, election, and bargaining processes.
While effective representation and guidance in the labor relations field has always been important, it is even more critical today. Through an aggressive series of administrative regulations, lawsuits, and other enforcement actions, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has increasingly tilted the playing field in favor of unions, making it even more important for employers to be engaged with their employees before union organization even starts. Even outside of the union context, the NLRB – along with many other federal, state, and local agencies – have greatly expanded their scrutiny of various employer practices, policies, and procedures.
Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP has extensive experience in all aspects of labor relations issues, representing and advising employers of all sizes and in many different industries.
How Can We Help?
Counseling and Advice
A sound labor relations strategy starts with good policies. Poorly drafted work rules and handbooks that fail to keep pace with new laws and regulations lead to unhappy employees and potential legal exposure. Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP attorneys are experienced in drafting and reviewing employee handbooks and other policies and procedures. We ensure both compliance with the law (including any local and state specific requirements) and effective communication of employer rules and expectations.
In addition, we have conducted numerous “labor relations audits” for employers seeking to get a more comprehensive sense of their current work environment. Through employee and supervisor interviews, reviews of policies and an analysis of past employment litigation, we are able to pinpoint specific areas of concern and recommend steps to address these concerns. These reviews can help prevent and correct the kinds of situations that often lead to government investigations and employees seeking union representation.
Arbitration is an increasingly common method for adjudicating employment-related disputes. For unionized employers, labor arbitration has long been the almost universal method for resolving disputes over the interpretation of collective bargaining agreements, as well as “just cause” challenges to employee disciplines and terminations. However, even non-unionized employers are beginning to recognize the advantages of arbitration over in-court litigation of employment disputes.
While similar in many ways to traditional litigation, effective arbitration requires a unique set of skills and experience. The availability of pre-hearing discovery, the applicable rules of evidence, and appropriate procedural steps are different not only between arbitration and litigation, but also among different kinds of arbitration and even different arbitrators. A “one size fits all” approach simply will not be effective.
Union Campaigns and Elections
One of the most unwelcome things an employer can receive is a petition for a union election. Recent changes to NLRB’s election procedures have only increased the pressures that accompany these petitions. An employer is required to send detailed information about its employees to the Board within a very short period of time. Also, the Board has dramatically shortened the amount of time between the filing of a petition and an election, limiting an employer’s ability to make its case to employees as to why a union is not in the employees’ best interests.
Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP attorneys have guided employers through every stage of the election process, including making sure that required disclosures are made to the Board and that elections are held in a manner that does not interfere with work processes or unfairly favor the union. In addition, we have worked closely with our clients to craft pro-company campaigns that comply with the law and are effective at rebutting the pro-union message.
Collective Bargaining and Union Relations
Employers who have unionized workforces likewise require strong and effective representation. The fact that a workforce is unionized does not mean that the union gets to dictate decisions. During collective bargaining agreement negotiations, unions are often represented by bargaining agents who have bargained many contracts and who are willing to use threats and bullying to get their way. Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP attorneys know these tactics and, more importantly, how to respond to them. We have assisted employers in negotiations with some of the country’s largest unions, including the United Steelworkers, the United Autoworkers and the Service Employees International Union. With our help, our clients have been able to negotiate broad management rights clauses, effective workplace rules and favorable economic terms. We have also helped our clients plan and execute strike contingencies and other threatened work stoppages.