Labor Management Relations & Labor Disputes

Crowell & Moring has a national reputation in traditional labor law. We represent employers around the country in all types of disputes arising under the National Labor Relations Act, ranging from administrative procedures before the National Labor Relations Board to high-stakes litigation in federal and state courts. We also regularly represent employers in collective bargaining negotiations and grievance arbitration matters, and advise clients in developing and implementing strategies to prevent (or, if necessary, minimize the business impact of) strikes, lockouts or other work stoppages. We have successfully handled hundreds of union election proceedings involving employers across the country.

Our practice includes significant experience in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, transportation, security, shipping, government contracts, natural resources, financial services, distribution, chemicals and manufacturing.  

We also have extensive experience in negotiating with and litigating against the most sophisticated labor unions in the country, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Longshoremen’s Union (ILA), the Auto Workers (UAW), the Machinists (IAM) the Steelworkers (USW), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and numerous labor organizations in relationships governed by Section 9(b)(3).

Our recent representations include the following:

  • Successfully defended a manufacturing employer against unfair labor practice charges and a request for Section 10(j) injunctive relief, in connection with a 16-month lockout.  We also successfully obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction on behalf of the client in state court prohibiting the union from engaging in further unlawful picketing and other activities undertaken in response to the lockout.
  • Successfully defended a  chemical manufacturing employer  in a series of arbitrations in which the right to make unilateral changes to its various benefit plans during the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, including curtailing a defined benefit plan and eliminating certain retiree health benefits, was affirmed.   
  • Obtained dismissal of unfair labor practice charges against manufacturing employer arising from its investigation of potential employee sabotage. Defeated union's claims that confidentiality instruction provided to bargaining unit employees at outset of investigatory interviews violated the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Defeated union's claim for injunctive relief against the closure of call center and other administrative operations of a major financial services employer, following the employer's decision to relocate and consolidate operations off-shore. 
  • Obtained arbitrator awards denying union grievances alleging that staffing decisions and elimination of bargaining unit positions at various manufacturing facilities violated subcontracting clauses. In each case, the arbitrator ruled that the employer had acted in accordance with the contract's management rights clause.
  • Operationally restructured the worldwide market leader in the secure transportation business by achieving strategic workforce change through an internal and external labor relations strategy.  This representation included prevailing in hundreds of proceedings before the NLRB and in various tribunals and courts throughout the US and Canada in connection with elimination of the representational status of the historical collective bargaining representative. As a result of the operational restructuring and cultural change  implemented through our strategy, the employer achieved and retained non-union status in the US, as well as continued operational success  throughout North America for the 30 year period of the representation.  Not one proceeding before any regulatory authority in the US and Canada, including the NLRB, EEOC and DOL, resulted in an adverse outcome during the period.
  • Structured the acquisition and merger labor relations strategy of the largest domestic non-union heavyweight freight forwarder in its acquisition of an organized competitor.  Through the creative use of NLRB processes in conjunction with our restructuring strategy, acting as lead negotiator, national non-union status was achieved except for one location thereby increasing asset value and operational productivity without any business interruption.
  • Structured the acquisition and labor strategy of a leading heavyweight freight forwarder, following vote for unionization by pilots of its domestic air carrier provider. After finalizing the transaction, we designed the operating structure of the entities to enhance the application of the NLRA to protect the freight forwarder and its non-union NLRA workforce. While acting as lead negotiator, we successfully negotiated a first contract encompassing pilots, and other classes and crafts concerning various types of aircraft under the RLA containing groundbreaking productivity and flexibility provisions concerning scheduling, compensation and dispute resolution provisions, which enhanced the operating success of the overall enterprise.
  • Restructured an operating strategy for the largest over-the-road mail carrier of the USPS following a series of acquisitions, and implemented a national bargaining strategy to change historic collective bargaining relationships while maintaining compliance with the Service Contract Act and the NLRA. This engagement included design of a labor relations strategy for multiple bargaining units of acquired operating groups located throughout the US. Acting as lead negotiator, we successfully negotiated pattern-making agreements which improved the carrier’s competitive position for future government contracts, which resulted in no adverse outcomes in any proceedings before regulators, including the NLRB, DOL and EEOC.
  • Created and advised concerning the collective bargaining strategy for an entire industry, which successfully leveraged fundamental operating and economic change throughout the East Coast, for domestic participants in the ocean transportation industry implicating numerous regulators, including the DOJ, OFCCP, EEOC, NLRB and state authorities.