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.

Featured Presentations

LCW Webinar Recording: Preparing for AB 1522 – California's New Paid Sick Leave Law
May 05, 2015
On July 1, 2015, California's new Paid Sick Leave Law (AB 1522) will go into effect. With very few exceptions, this new law will apply to every employee at your agency, including temporary, seasonal, and extra help employees. This webinar will cover the basic requirements of AB 1522 – including the Paid Sick Leave Law's use, accrual, carryover, and notice requirements. In addition, we'll outline the "gray" areas that exist and provide our best understanding of how to apply and implement the law so your agency will be prepared when the law goes into effect.

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
© 2015 Liebert Cassidy Whitmore