Labor Relations and
Negotiation Services

Labor Relations and Negotiations

Members of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore have successfully negotiated thousands of labor agreements for cities, counties, special districts, the courts, and school and college districts. The negotiations have covered all classes of employees, including a variety of white and blue collar, professional, supervisory and management, and public safety employee bargaining units. Depending on the philosophy and circumstances of an agency, these agreements have run the gamut of relatively brief memorandums of understanding covering primarily benefit items to comprehensive labor agreements that define substantially all negotiable terms of employment, and, through management rights, waiver and "zipper" type clauses, provide protection to management's ability to effectively manage the agency. Members of the Firm are experienced in collaborative/interest based bargaining techniques in addition to the more traditional labor negotiations approach.

In addition to conducting negotiations for public employers, we continually work with agencies that employ staff personnel to do their own negotiations. This arrangement involves all aspects of consultation and related services, including drafting and reviewing bargaining proposals, counter proposals and agreement provisions, providing training and advice concerning negotiating strategies, and giving advice or stepping into the process when particular problems arise.

Our Approach to Negotiations

  • We work with and for the chief administrative official and his/her designated staff, and through him/her with the Governing Body. We provide professional advice to assist the agency in determining its policy goals and objectives, which then become our goals and objectives; we see our job as applying our best efforts and skills to achieving those goals and timetables.

  • We believe in carefully organizing for negotiations, with goals and objectives kept well in mind. The negotiating process, we believe, consists of definable stages, from preparatory activities to the preliminary bargaining phases, "hard bargaining," and finally to agreement, impasse procedure, or work action. Each stage of the process requires an organized approach in order to maximize the chances of attaining bargaining objectives.

  • Our philosophy is not one of "union busting," but rather one of using a professional approach that seeks to achieve and maintain professional relationships, notwithstanding the adversarial aspects of the process.

  • We call to the attention of our clients that in return for agreeing to competitive benefit adjustments in line with client resources, it is reasonable for them to seek to contractually protect and maximize their management discretion to set standards of service and retain the prerogative to direct, assign, and stimulate employees to meet them.

  • We see the conclusion of negotiations as the beginning for establishing a constructive employer-employee organization-employee relations structure, which requires management training and ongoing involvement with agency management on our part.

  • While one member of the firm handles a particular negotiating unit, at least one other designated attorney will be kept advised so that at all times the client has access to an attorney who is familiar with the status of the situation in each bargaining unit.

  • We have negotiated virtually every issue within the scope of bargaining, including all forms of wages; hours, work schedules and overtime; health and retirement benefits; leaves; discipline and arbitration procedures; layoff and furlough policies; and a wide variety of negotiable working conditions.

  • During the current period of severe budgetary shortfalls, Firm negotiators have successfully represented clients in negotiating salary and benefit reductions, layoffs and furloughs, reduced pension plans, lowered 2nd tier retirement and retiree health benefits, contracting out of services, and reducing labor costs through modifications in negotiable work rules. In a number of cases these cost savings required negotiating the opening up of currently effective labor agreements.

Negotiating Impasses
Services provided by the members of the Firm have included direct participation, as well as consultation, in hundreds of mediations. Our attorneys have guided many agencies in preparing its case for fact finding and interest arbitration; and have both represented and served as the panel member in a number of interest arbitrations.

Strike Actions
We have worked with many public sector employers in contingency planning for job actions and assisting them in strike-related activities. A Firm partner co-authored the "Management Strike Handbook," published by the International Personnel Management Association.

Contract Administration and Grievance Handling
The Firm has extensive experience in the area of grievance administration, ranging from the giving of advice at the administrative levels of the grievance process through litigating arbitration cases.

Public Employment Relations Board Representation
Members of the firm have had many years of experience representing our clients in all phases of PERB proceedings, from consultation and responses to Unfair Labor Practice claims through PERB hearings and court appeals. A Firm partner served as counsel to the PERB Board's first Chairperson as well as serving as a PERB Administrative Law Judge. Another Firm partner represented the League of California Cities and the California Association of Counties in the legislative and administrative proceedings in connection with the PERB assuming jurisdiction over local agency employment relations.

Employee Relations and Personnel Policies
LCW has developed a comprehensive sample Employer-Employee Relations Resolution/Ordinance that is widely utilized by California's local agencies. It serves to protect local control over key aspects of employment relations which otherwise would be left to the PERB. We advise or represent agencies in consulting with unions in implementing or revising changes in its Resolution or Ordinance.

The Firm develops, reviews, revises, and, to the extent required, assists in the negotiation of personnel policies and procedures that are in compliance with changing legal requirements and that facilitate effective personnel administration.


Presentations and Trainings:

Below is a list of our featured presentations and recordings. You can also view the full list of our upcoming presentations, or explore our library of webinar recordings.

Featured Presentations

LCW Webinar Recording: Avoiding Pitfalls During Labor Negotiations
November 12, 2014
The obligation to negotiate, or "meet and confer," generally arises when one of the parties makes a request to negotiate or when the department decides to make a change in a matter within the statutory scope of representation. This webinar will cover the legal obligations around negotiations, the mechanics of how the negotiations process happens, and provide you with practical tips to help you avoid the pitfalls that can lead to strained labor relations or allegations of unfair labor practices.
LCW Webinar Recording: MOU Review and Audit
February 03, 2015
Are you getting ready for labor negotiations? Have you reviewed your MOU for compliance with changes in the law, best practices or ambiguities which could be used against your agency? An MOU Review/Audit is essential to ensure that any problems which exist with your MOU are identified so you can employ a strategy to address those provisions as part of your labor negotiations.

Representative Matters




To Contact Liebert Cassidy Whitmore:
Los Angeles 310.981.2000 | Fresno 559.256.7800 | San Francisco 415.512.3000 | San Diego 619.481.5900
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