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Labor Law

The Labor Law Practice Group is chaired by Chris Kleppin.  The Group has been involved in representing both private and public employers in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: 1) at arbitrations relating to a myriad of employment and labor related issues, such as grievances by employees of discipline they have received and issues arising out of the interpretation of collective bargaining agreements; 2) at the bargaining table when management and the union bargain and attempt to agree upon the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement; and 3) defending charges of unfair labor practices levied against an employer by an employee or a union before the National Labor Relations Board.

The firm's past cases have included, but have not been limited to, negotiating collective bargaining agreements in the three unionized stores located in San Francisco, Seattle and Allentown, and representation of the employer at arbitration proceedings. As an example, an arbitration award from Seattle may be found at In re Levitz Furniture Company of Washington, Inc. and Retail Store Employees, Union, Local 1001, 1982 WL 30885, 78 Lab. Arb. (BNA) 335 (1982).  Because there were other stores in over 100 locations, union organizing was ongoing at many locations. This necessitated hearings before regional hearing officers of the National Labor Relations Board in various states. Many hearings concentrated on matters such as whether the union had petitioned to organize an appropriate bargaining unit, and defending charges of unfair labor practices. While the union had its organizing campaign, the employer had the right to tell its side of the story, but had to do so within legal parameters, which required a thorough review of all campaign materials. During the time, a member of the firm was Associate General Counsel for Levitz, no new stores were organized.

At the same time, it was necessary to be sure that both federal and state laws were being followed with respect to payment of overtime and minimum wages, and that federal and state discrimination laws were being adhered to, in the various states in which Levitz had a presence. This required ongoing training of store managers, as well as defending charges of discrimination, which required position statements to the appropriate agencies, and attendance at fact-finding conferences.

Among other cases, the firm represented Skyline Builders in a union organizing campaign, and was chief negotiator for the City of Tamarac in contract negotiations with the Federation of Public Employees in 1999.

List of Representative Clients: Broward Sheriff' Office, School Board of Broward County, Levitz Furniture, and City of Tamarac, Florida.

Published Cases by Westlaw Concerning Collective Bargaining Agreement Interpretations

•  In re Levitz Furniture Company of Washington, Inc. and Retail Store Employees, Union, Local 1001, 1982 WL 30885, 78 Lab. Arb. (BNA) 335 (1982).

The firm represented the employer, Levitz Furniture, in a case filed by terminated employees who wanted the collective bargaining agreement to be interpreted to include a payment to them of accrued vacation benefits. The arbitrator held that employer had not improperly denied vacation pay upon termination to the employees in the case, and thus overruled the employee' objections to their termination. The arbitrator refused to award the employees pay in lieu of vacation, based upon the language in the collective bargaining agreement. The grievance was dismissed.