Attorneys Counseling Employers on the Best Ways to Handle Union Disputes

Strong advocacy for the businesses in union negotiations and conflicts

Union disputes need to be handled effectively so your business operations can be as successful as possible. Each company that works with unions should understand that the right balances must be struck between having an ambitious and satisfied workforce and having the finances and control to maximize business profits.

At Gertsburg Licata, our lawyers understand this balance. We work to draft collective bargaining agreements so that there is little chance that workers will strike, complain of unfair labor practices, or file grievances and that also focus on the needs and priorities of the business. When disputes do occur, our Cleveland union dispute attorneys have the experience to resolve many disputes before the litigation stage. When unions push too far, we are ready and able to strongly represent your business in arbitration, before the NLRB, and in state or federal court.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

The NLRA is the principal federal statute that governs the rights of workers to unionize and manages relations between employers and unions. The Act gives unions the right to collectively bargain on behalf of workers and to file complaints of unfair trade practices when employers fail to bargain in good faith or otherwise fail to respect the rights of elected unions. Employers, for example, cannot interfere with the right of workers to unionize. Employers have the right to file unfair trade practices also.

There are limits to what unions can do. Unions cannot force workers to join a union, charge exorbitant fees, refuse to bargain in good faith, or commit unfair trade practices of their own.

Collective bargaining negotiations

Collective bargaining is the method unions and employers work to resolve their disputes. Our union conflict lawyers advise businesses on collective bargaining strategies. This advice begins by explaining that employers have a duty to negotiate the following items as part of a collective bargaining agreement:

  • Wages and salaries
  • Work hours and overtime
  • Health benefits
  • Working conditions
  • Vacation time
  • Sick leave and holiday
  • Safety rules and procedures
  • The rights of management
  • The ability or inability to strike or create lock-down
  • Seniority
  • Discharge and termination

When an agreement is reached, it is imperative that the agreement be put into writing — into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The clearer the terms of the agreement are, the less likely there is a chance that the union will file grievances. A strong CBA will precisely set forth when grievances can be filed and how those disputes will be handled — through arbitration, mediation, or standard litigation.

Unfair labor practices

Employers and unions cannot commit or fail to do things that the NLRA requires. Both sides are required to negotiate in good faith. Other examples of unfair trade practices are:

  • Firing an employee for participating in union activities
  • Interfering with an NLRB investigation
  • Interfering with the right of employees to work together even when they don’t form a union

If either side — employer or union or a group of employees — believes that the opposing side has committed an unfair trade practice, they can file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB will then investigate the claim if it is filed in a timely manner. The investigator files a report with the regional office that will dismiss the charges or issue the employer a formal complaint. The dispute is then either resolved or set for a court date where the employer and the NLRB, on behalf of the union or employees, will make their respective cases. Employers who are found to have committed an unfair labor practice may be ordered to provide an appropriate remedy.

Representation when grievances are filed

Even the best CBA is not immune to the filing of grievances by employees or the union. Employees/unions may argue that the CBA has been breached because of a failure to pay according to seniority, to provide health benefits that were bargained for, to provide safe working conditions, or for other reasons. Our attorneys are ready to help employers respond to grievances by showing the complaint is without merit, by settling the dispute, or by litigating the dispute in arbitration or court.

Speak with an experienced union dispute attorney today

At Gertsburg Licata, we understand what practices the NLRB considers fair and which ones cross the line. We are experienced advocates for the employer and work to have complaints dismissed, resolved, or to argue that any remedy be minimal. Because many of our attorneys have first-hand experience advising companies in Ohio, we understand how to minimize grievances and how to resolve them. Please call our firm at 216-573-6000 to speak with a union dispute attorney. You can also reach us through our contact form.