Labor Management Relations

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We have developed a reputation as firm but fair adversaries, committed to solving problems, achieving our clients’ objectives, and maintaining a constructive labor-management relationship.

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Overview

The strengths of Ropes & Gray’s labor & employment department include extensive in-depth knowledge and experience in labor-management and employee relations. By way of pro-active measures, we endeavor to ensure that our attorneys are just a phone call away, available to respond to our clients’ questions and to provide advice and counseling on a broad range of labor and employment issues whenever they arise. We work with our clients to help them understand the terms of their collective bargaining agreements, and how to identify which situations warrant further legal advice.

How We Help Our Clients

We offer our clients a diverse team of attorneys who are highly knowledgeable and experienced in the full spectrum of labor and employee relations issues. In situations in which labor-management relations have been difficult, we have developed strategies for building more constructive and positive relations. Our strengths include:

  • Strong credibility with and respect from labor unions representing employees of our clients
  • the know-how derived from assisting clients in numerous union representation proceedings
  • a proven track record of delivering labor and employment legal services to clients in a cost-effective manner
  • experienced employment litigators fully prepared to defend clients in adversarial proceedings where conflict is unavoidable
  • a client-oriented approach that emphasizes working closely with human resource managers to avoid expensive and counterproductive legal disputes
  • the development of sound policies and practices generally and tailored advice with respect to discrete labor relations issues

Labor-Management Transactional Capabilities

Attorneys in our labor & employment department routinely advise potential acquirers and sellers in connection with the operational and financial challenges posed by existing collective bargaining relationships. We work with clients to devise strategies designed to minimize or eliminate obstacles. We have negotiated directly with labor unions concerning the operational changes frequently attendant to mergers and acquisitions, and have advised clients conducting such negotiations themselves. We also routinely represent portfolio companies of our investor clients in connection with their day to day labor-management concerns.

Experience

Ropes & Gray has a proven track record of successfully representing clients in labor-management negotiations, including:

  • Creating a strategy for a prestigious private college and leading the management team in negotiations for major concessions in wages and benefits with a union, avoiding adverse labor activity
  • Advising a large community hospital in a critical cost-reduction initiative requiring the cooperation of a major nurses union and a major service employees union
  • Representing a major academic teaching hospital before the National Labor Relations Board in a six-day hearing in which the union representing the hospital’s nurses asserted a right to represent newly-employed nurses without their having the benefit of a secret ballot election
  • Representing a hospital client in a significant labor arbitration, upholding the hospital's right to transfer employees involuntarily to reflect fluctuating workflow demands, thereby permitting the hospital to avoid "bumping" of employees under a reduction in force procedure
  • Representing a national media company in connection with union negotiations concerning the first unionized employees of the company, including the company’s right to effect changes to employee benefits during the pendency of union negotiations
  • Representing a public health care system in connection with numerous unfair labor practice charges and union grievance arbitrations
  • Representing a multi-facility long-term acute care health care system in negotiating union contracts for four separate collective bargaining units involving a freeze of step pay increases and other economic takeaways
  • Negotiating, without labor strife, low-cost collective bargaining agreements for numerous hospital and educational clients, resulting in no increases, or only minimal increases, in wages and other benefits