Labor Relations and Union Avoidance

Our labor relations practice represents management only in all aspects of labor relations. Through practice focus, our lawyers are immersed each day in the issues that they regularly work on with clients around the country in both right-to-work and non-right-to-work states. We understand the value of managing labor relations in competitive and distressed industries. Our clients range from Fortune 100 companies and large private equity backed businesses, to community health centers and municipalities. We have serviced clients in manufacturing, health care, human services, paper, fuel oil, pharmaceutical, insurance/financial, construction, hospitality, gaming, elevator, aerospace and governmental industries.

Our labor lawyers counsel, advise and represent unionized clients in developing corporate-wide, multifacility labor relations strategies. We negotiate collective bargaining agreements and represent our clients in contract administration, grievance handling and arbitration, strike consultation, and National Labor Relations Board and court proceedings. We handle unfair labor practice and representation proceedings before the NLRB and state labor relations agencies. We advise our clients in contract campaigns and in lawfully communicating with employees to attain bargaining and operational objectives. We assist our clients in structuring the labor relations aspects of transactions, including purchase and sale transactions, mergers, consolidations, subcontracting, work relocations and divestitures to accomplish corporate objectives. We assist our clients in navigating the complexities of multiemployer pension liability and other employee benefits issues in the context of transactions, collective bargaining and operations.

Our practitioners advise our employer clients with nonunionized operations in union-free strategies and with respect to organizing, picketing, hand-billing, demands for recognition through card check, corporate campaigns and NLRB elections and related proceedings. We have been involved in matters ranging from single location elections, to elections involving multiple unions and operations across several states.

Our firm routinely advises clients in dealing with issues of multiemployer fund withdrawal liability. Our labor lawyers partner with our ERISA attorneys on corporate deals and in rendering advice on withdrawal liability matters. Many of our clients come from the trucking, industrial, or construction industry and are parties to multiemployer funds. Recently, we advised a construction company through withdrawal liability issues and potential applicability of the construction industry exemption to withdrawal liability through a sale of assets in Indiana and Michigan. We advised another client in Kansas on how to gradually minimize the size of its unionized workforce to avoid incurring a partial withdrawal. We are currently litigating a multiemployer withdrawal liability case in Manhattan regarding the applicability of the sale of assets exemption.

As a dedicated labor relations practice within a full service regional law firm, we regularly partner with and draw upon the resources and experience of our firm's other practices, including our health care/regulatory, commercial real estate, corporate, environmental (including environmental health & safety), governmental incentives, criminal, trial and appellate, governmental relations and incentives, ERISA and employee benefits, and municipal finance practices. As part of coordinated teams, our labor practitioners are able to add significant value for clients as they work to attain their business and management objectives.

    • Experience
      • Counseled numerous employers, including recently an international chemical manufacturer, on labor relations strategy involving a permanent plant facility closure.

      • Represented and counseled health care employer during a successful decertification petition and election campaign involving a SEIU local union.

      • Prevailed in grievance arbitration involving the discharge for cause of a thirty-three year SEIU delegate.

      • Have served as chief spokesperson and lead negotiator in hundreds of negotiations that have involved the termination of defined benefit retirement plans.

      • Successfully defended company in labor arbitration against a claim that the Union had the right to take union stewards away from work for Union business without notification to or approval from the company.


      • Assisted manufacturing client in the successful decertification a 30-year bargaining relationship with the International Association of Machinists.
      • Defended state bar association in connection with a Section 8(a)(3) charge brought by an alleged employee-organizer who was terminated for performance reasons. Following submission of a detailed position letter and evidence, the charging party withdrew the charge to avoid the region’s dismissal of the case.
      • Representation of a public-private partnership with the State of Connecticut in the process of bidding and negotiating a management agreement with the Connecticut Department of Transportation to manage its rest areas. Robinson+Cole assisted the client in achieving compliance with state contracting requirements, standard wage laws and handling labor relations matters. Robinson+Cole also assisted the client in avoiding tail end withdrawal if the contractor ceased performing cleaning and maintenance services on the properties.

      • Assisted a Water Pollution Control Authority with the labor relations issues involving a subcontract of its WCPA operations and possible transition to the municipality after the subcontract terminates.

      • Defended a municipal client before the State Board of Labor Relations by reaffirming its right to subcontract bargaining unit work in two separate challenges. The two cases were withdrawn during the investigation phase, as a result of our compelling arguments in favor of the municipality's right to subcontract.

      • Successfully negotiated numerous municipal collective bargaining agreements that addressed management objectives involving cost containment in the areas of pension, health insurance, overtime, salary schedules, and call-in pay.

      • Prevailed in labor arbitration regarding contract interpretation and involving the discipline of two employees who left work early because the Union claimed that the collective bargaining agreement established a maximum workweek.

      • back to top
    • News
      • August 15, 2017

        Fifty-Nine Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018

        • » more info
        • View article
      • August 15, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2017

        • » more info
        • View article
      • August 18, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016

        • » more info
        • View article
      • May 15, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Boosts Metro New York Employment Practice with Addition of 30-Year Labor Pro

        • » more info
        • View article
      • October 21, 2013

        Super Lawyers® Names 61 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2013 List

        • » more info
        • View article
      • September 13, 2013

        Nicole Bernabo Appointed to Lead CBA's Labor and Employment Law Section

        • » more info
      • January 23, 2013

        Employment & Labor Lawyers Host Webinar on Employees' NLRA Section 7 Rights in a Nonunionized Environment

        • » more info
      • December 21, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Appointed to Board of Directors of Nonprofits

        • » more info
        • View article
      • December 13, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Earn Additional Honors for Pro Bono Work

        • » more info
        • View article
      • August 28, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

        • » more info
        • View article
      • June 30, 2012

        Theodore J. Tucci to Participate in the Metro Hartford Alliance’s Panel Discussion on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling on Health Care Reform

        • » more info
      • May 31, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Expands Labor & Employment Practice with Addition of Three New Attorneys

      • May 22, 2012

        Labor and Employment Attorney Coaches Fifth Graders in Mock Trial

        • » more info
        • View article
      • May 17, 2012

        Labor and Employment Attorney’s Article Discusses Court Decisions Impacting the National Labor Relations Act Employer Posting Rule

        • » more info
      • May 14, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Welcomes Twelve New Attorneys in Five Offices Expanding its Presence across the Northeast

        • » more info
        • View article
      • November 21, 2011

        Attorneys Write Articles Published in Connecticut Law Tribune Special Section on Employment and Immigration Law

      • July 25, 2011

        Nicole Bernabo Moderates Panel on Arbitration in Employment Disputes

        • » more info
      • February 14, 2011

        Labor and Employment Associate Shares the Ins and Outs of a Legal Career with High School Students

        • » more info
      • August 26, 2010

        Reflecting on Workplace Safety Procedures

        • » more info
      • April 14, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Appointed as Contributing Editor for American Bar Association's Developing Labor Law Publication

        • » more info
      • November 13, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Partner Speaks at First Annual SPPON Trustee Symposium

        • » more info
      • August 20, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Announces New Anti-Harassment Training Program

        • » more info
    • Publications + Presentations
    • General Counsel's New Standard on Intermittent Strikes, Another Untenable Position for Employers, authored by Natale V. Di Natale (October 10, 2016)

      NLRB Revised Election Rules Set to Take Effect in April (3/5/2015)

      Looking Forward to 2014 for Manufacturers/Distributors (01/21/2014)

      Check out our Manufacturing Law Blog (09/10/2013)

      "Dodging the “U” Word: Your Organization’s Guide to Union Avoidance," (1/28/2013)

      NLRB Rules Witness Statements Must Be Provided to Unions (01/14/2013)

      "Employees’ NLRA Section 7 Rights in a Nonunionized Environment," co-presented by Nicole A. Bernabo and Peter A. Dagostine, Robinson & Cole webinar (1/10/2013)

      "Nonsolicitation/Distribution Policies,"
      • » more info
      • View article

      NLRB Rules Several Common Workplace Policies Violate the NLRA (10/31/2012)

      NLRB Finds Hospital's No-Access Policy for Off-Duty Employees Unlawful (07/16/2012)

      NLRB General Counsel Issues Social Media Policy Guidance (06/07/2012)

      "Court Decisions Postpone NLRA Notice Posting Rule," published in Connecticut Law Tribune, authored by Nicole A. Bernabo (4/23/2012)

      "New Rules Would Affect Consultants to Employers: Law Firms, Others Would Have To Report Activities Involving Union Issues," published in Connecticut Law Tribune, authored by Nicole A. Bernabo (10/31/2011)

      "Arbitration in Employment Disputes," presented by Nicole A. Bernabo, moderated panel at Connecticut Bar Association Annual Meeting (6/23/2011)

      "Big Brother, Hidden Cameras & Other Surveillance in the Workplace," at Massachusetts Bar Association Luncheon Roundtable, presented by Jeffrey M. Feuer, Esq., and David R. Kerrigan, Assistant Attorney General (1/11/2006)
      • » more info

      Labor and Employment in Connecticut: A Guide to Employment Laws, Regulations, and Practices, authored by Jeffrey L. Hirsch (2006, 2007)

      Labor and Employment in Rhode Island

      Labor and Employment in Connecticut, assisted by Effie Aquila Patrick

      Labor and Employment in Massachusetts

Our Team