Labor Management Relations and Labor Litigation

Labor Management Relations and Labor Litigation

A Traditional Labor Practice Providing Sophisticated Representation In Complex Labor Disputes

Hunton &  Williams LLP has maintained a traditional labor practice for more than five decades. Today, 25 members of the firm's labor and employment team are seasoned practitioners in complex traditional labor law matters. Our client base includes companies that do not have unions and strongly desire to remain union-free, as well as companies that have historical relationships with organized labor. As a consequence, our practice includes developing and executing strategies to manage all aspects of complex labor-management relations problems, including responding to and terminating corporate campaigns, union representational proceedings, unfair labor practice charges, labor arbitrations, collective bargaining and strike contingency planning and execution.

Corporate Campaigns
In recent years, labor unions, advocacy groups and other NGOs have turned increasingly to the use of public pressure strategies to influence the direction of corporate, human relations and other policies within American businesses. "Corporate campaigns," as they are commonly known, involve a broad array of strategies and tactics designed to place financial, legal, operational and social pressure on a target company in order to force that organization’s compliance with the demands of the campaigning group. Union-driven corporate campaigns typically involve ulterior bargaining or organizing objectives, such as capitulation to bargaining demands, forcing acceptance of organizing agreements or ousting nonunion employers from certain business segments or markets. While the objectives may vary, the tactics used are often the same, and they are often highly sophisticated.

Hunton & Williams has a successful track record of advising companies and trade groups facing the threat of corporate campaign attacks. We have brought a global perspective to the table to devise corporate governance, public relations, labor and litigation solutions for some of the most influential corporations and trade groups in the world. We have been in the trenches dealing with corporate campaigns on a day-to-day basis side by side with our clients, as well as acting in an advisory capacity. In addition to managing the campaigns, we have successfully used litigation strategies to bring these campaigns to a halt.

Union Representation Petitions
We have represented companies in more than 500 election petitions. We typically handle a representational matter from the prepetition stage through postelection proceedings, including hearings on objections to election conduct, unfair labor practice blocking charges and appellate proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or the courts. Our clients' success rate in union representation proceedings is more than 95 percent.

Unfair Labor Practice Charges
We have handled hundreds of complex unfair labor practice charges for employers in various industries throughout the US. We have a track record of successfully defending our clients and are skilled at advising them on how to meet their business objectives through measures that do not run afoul of the law.

Collective Bargaining / Response to Strikes
Our labor attorneys regularly assist clients in preparation for collective bargaining. On many occasions, we serve as the principal negotiator for the client and help determine the successful strategy for achieving our client’s business goals. For many clients, we prepare strike contingency plans, including guidelines on communications to employees and the public, and we provide advice on how best to deal with personnel and benefit issues that typically arise during a work stoppage. We also work closely with the client's security team to address important security concerns and provide advice on steps to preserve evidence that may be necessary to support an injunction if a strike should occur. In addition, we have represented many companies in connection with wildcat strikes, union-sanctioned work stoppages and picketing activity. This includes picketing at primary sites as well as picketing and hand billing at secondary locations where the object is to put pressure on customers of the client.

Section 301 and 303 Litigation
In addition to the injunction actions described above, we also have substantial experience in representing companies in civil actions for damages or other relief brought in the federal courts under Section 301 and Section 303 of the Labor-Management Relations Act. These actions have involved a variety of complex claims, including breach of contract allegations, secondary boycott violations, violations of no-strike obligations, unfair representation allegations and suits to set aside labor arbitration decisions.

Our attorneys handle a large number of labor arbitrations each year that are processed through the grievance/arbitration procedure of collective bargaining agreements. Collectively, we have handled more than 1,500 labor arbitrations for clients in virtually every industry. The cases that we are retained to handle typically involve controversial matters or significant business disputes.