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Traditional Labor

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So called "traditional" labor law practices are rare these days, even among quality law firms. Goldberg Kohn is an exception to the rule. Goldberg Kohn's labor lawyers have a breadth of labor law experience that extends from battling organizing attempts while working in labor relations at a steel mill to working for a Regional Office of the National Labor Relations Board. The firm has handled unfair labor practice cases, representational hearings and advised clients through organizing campaigns all over the country. Such experience is vital when economic action such as picketing, handbilling, strikes, or lockouts are threatened or imminent; clients need a labor lawyer who can give advice on the fly--not one who is learning it on the go. 

In addition to providing clients with advice about union-management issues, Goldberg Kohn represents management in contract negotiations, unfair labor practice charges, grievance arbitrations, and union election campaigns. The firm's attorneys are frequently called upon to represent employers who are going through organizing campaigns by labor, including advising clients regarding the legal effects and risks of so-called “neutrality” or “labor peace” agreements.

Loose language and unwitting concessions can haunt a unionized employer for decades. Goldberg Kohn often assists clients in negotiating collective bargaining agreements at the table or as a resource for clients when strategic issues are presented. The firm frequently advises clients about best-practices and pitfalls in labor contracts, assessing whether bargaining is at impasse, avoiding and managing successorship liability, and how to bargain in restructuring, workout and bankruptcy situations. Goldberg Kohn's breadth of knowledge about the interplay between labor laws and bankruptcy laws is hard to find.

Goldberg Kohn's traditional labor law work in the charter school arena deserves special mention. Charter schools confront unusual labor issues, such as those related to jurisdictional disputes over them that occur between federal and state regulatory authorities. Goldberg Kohn has blazed new ground through its efforts to ensure that charter schools can fulfill their important mission of ensuring that all children have the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Please see the Education Industry section for more information about Goldberg Kohn's work on behalf of the alternative school movement.

Representative Matters

  • Currently advising a hospitality industry client with respect to its rights related to a “labor peace” agreement that a municipality and state are trying to enforce against a hotel management company.
  • Currently advising multiple clients who are being organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), including conducting and responding to informational/corporate campaigns, neutrality agreements, supervisory training and general advice regarding unfair labor practice issues and general free speech rights.
  • Currently representing a long-term client in its initial contract negotiations with an operating engineers union.
  • Currently representing the Illinois Network of Charter Schools ("INCS") to offer legal services to each of the 30 charter schools in Illinois. In addition to representing INCS, the firm represents approximately 15 charter schools with respect to their labor and employment matters, including the largest charter school in the country.
  • Goldberg Kohn is advising multiple charter schools about the propriety of invasive Freedom of Information Requests issued by various organized labor and other organizations. Several charter schools have turned to the firm for advice on the interplay between labor laws and charter school laws. Many others have sought training to ensure that they understand their rights and obligations in the midst of organized labor drives.
  • Recently involved in providing labor advice regarding various issues to a Fortune 100 client related to highly publicized picketing by employees designed to extract economic benefits in the context of a plant shutdown.
  • Defended a major Chicago newspaper in a six-day grievance arbitration against its union regarding the alleged wrongful termination of three union members, which included a race discrimination claim. All three terminations were upheld in their entirety.
  • Recently, a well-known, aggressive union began recognitional picketing of one of Goldberg Kohn's clients and, in an effort to pressure that client to recognize the union, one of its most important customers. Two of Goldberg Kohn's labor and employment attorneys stopped the illegal picketing by, among other things, obtaining an expedited election to prove that the employees did not wish to be represented by the union and by filing an unfair labor practice charge on behalf of the employer with the NLRB. After the NLRB investigator found merit to the charge, Goldberg Kohn attorneys assisted a lawyer from the NLRB in obtaining a federal court injunction against further unlawful picketing by the union. Goldberg Kohn's client remains union free; the picketing has stopped; and the union has settled the unfair labor practice charge by agreeing not to engage in such unlawful picketing in the future.
  • Counseled a manufacturing client with several plants to a successful election result, despite the company's need to lay off employees in the midst of the union's organization campaign.
  • Recently, the Labor & Employment Group obtained the dismissal of an unfair labor practice allegation based on a rarely used jurisdictional argument. The employer remains union-free and is no longer being harassed by the union.
  • An attorney in the Labor & Employment Group obtained an agreement to broaden the scope of a union's chosen bargaining unit to include two additional employees not sought by the union's representational petition. The client won the election by two votes. After this result, the union filed unfair labor practice charges, challenges and objections contesting this result. Following litigation and a full evidentiary hearing before the NLRB, all allegations were dismissed, and the employer remains union-free today.
  • A construction client faced unlawful picketing that shut down its work on a job site at a high-profile retail location. A principal in the Labor & Employment Group advised the client to file an unfair labor practice charge against the union and, to the union's surprise, simultaneously filed a petition on the employer's behalf for an expedited election at the NRLB. The union was blindsided and, in less than three weeks, lost the election even before the NRLB made a final determination on the underlying picketing allegations. The construction project was completed without any further unlawful union activity.
  • A union on the East Coast withdrew a representation petition for employees at one of an employer's several branch offices after being convinced by a letter drafted by Goldberg Kohn that the bargaining unit sought was legally flawed. The petition has never been re-filed. The employer remains union-free and avoided spending significant resources to defend itself against the union's organizational campaign.
  • A large, international company that purchased a local subsidiary with multiple unions relied upon one of our principals to help the purchaser alter burdensome contract obligations that had been agreed to by the seller. Even though the union contract contained "successor" obligations, Goldberg Kohn helped the client complete the deal with significant changes in the union employees' terms and conditions.

Attorneys At Law

55 East Monroe Street
Suite 3300
Chicago, Illinois 60603-5792
Tel: 312.201.4000
Fax: 312.332.2196
Email: info@goldbergkohn.com

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