Labor Relations

Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Minnesota remain among the U.S. states with the highest percentage of unionized workers. When a union is present, it can create a wedge between a company and its employees, changing the dynamic as employees become both advocates and adversaries. When a union represents employees or has targeted a company’s workforce for potential unionization, it can add both union and government regulation and disruption as the company strives to keep its business moving.

Key Contacts

Brenda K. Baumgart Partner Portland, OR
Timothy J. O'Connell Partner Seattle, WA
James M. Shore Partner Seattle, WA
Victor J. Kisch Partner Portland, OR
See all contacts
Overview

We are seasoned in representing both public and private sector employers in negotiating and operating with unions. We help with all elements of unionization, from initial campaign planning and strategy to defeat organization, to negotiation and collective bargaining, contract administration, dispute resolution and efforts to regain non-union status. Our clients represent many industries where unions are prevalent, including health care, forestry, education and government, and include large and small employers across diverse sectors such as manufacturing, telecommunications, timber, construction, food service and retail. 

Our Services

  • Union avoidance
  • Union organizing campaigns
  • Representation of management before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
  • Contract negotiations
  • Grievance and arbitration hearings
  • De-authorization and decertification
  • International labor relations issues
  • Advice regarding labor relations issues in mergers and acquisitions
  • Claims of unfair labor practices
  • Work stoppages and picketing
  • Collective bargaining
  • Litigation and trial representation 

Collective Bargaining

We are effective advisers across the spectrum of issues that arise with a unionized workforce because we know your business and how negotiation and dispute points affect operations. We’ll partner with you to develop offensive and defensive strategies so collective bargaining aims are clear, and the resulting contract achieves your goals and protects your interests both short and long term. 

NLRB Proceedings

If you face scrutiny or questioning from the NLRB, we’ll help you navigate claims and investigations. Our clients benefit from the fact that we have attorneys who worked in-house at the NLRB as litigators and enforcers. Having experience on that side of the table provides excellent insight and perspective. In addition, over years of experience with labor union issues we have developed excellent working relationships with federal and state regulators. 

Work Stoppage

An actual or threat of a work stoppage can be disruptive to your business and have a chilling effect on customers, suppliers, vendors and other partners. In addition to advising you on strike preparation and court remedies to prevent or address strike activities, we’ll help with communication and media strategies that amplify your position and minimize disruption. 

Matters
  • Represented an energy utility company in a negotiation with the United Mine Workers union over the shutdown of a major coal mine that resulted in successfully defending against unfair labor charges.
  • Represented a pulp and paper company in the defense of more than 20 unfair labor practice charges and obtained an injunction ending a violent and disruptive strike while setting limitations on any future picketing activities.
  • Represented a hospital in response to a union election petition under the new “quickie” election rules, resulting in obtaining substantial time for the employer to tell its side of the story.
  • Represented a community health care provider in negotiations of a new collective bargaining agreement that resulted in several favorable concessions without going through a strike.
  • Represented a grain export terminal in negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, resulting in a new collective bargaining agreement with substantial concessions without a strike or lockout
  • Represented a public university specializing in dentistry, medicine and nursing in both a labor union grievance and a class action complaint alleging failures to make correct contributions to a retirement fund that resulted in a successful resolution to both actions.
  • Represented a major health care system in a series of interrelated labor arbitrations and court cases challenging the employer’s mandatory influenza vaccination program, resulting in a successful arbitration award and repeated judicial rejections of claims for injunctive relief.
  • Represented a regional health care service provider in connection with the labor relations involved in the reorganization of several major aspects of its business.
  • Represented a large lumber producer in connection with a union campaign that resulted in successfully defending against unfair labor practice charges and implementing new compensation and HR strategies.
  • Represented a supplier of structural composite assemblies and components in the development of a negotiations strategy and defense against several unfair labor practice charges that resulted in the employees voting to “decertify” their union.
  • Represented a local hospital in the negotiation of an initial contract with the hospital’s service employees that preserved an “open shop” certification.
  • Represented a public transportation provider in a labor arbitration involving a grievance challenging the company’s ability to subcontract new work that resulted in a favorable interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement.
Team
Insights & Presentations
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