Cozen O’Connor: Labor Relations & Disputes

Labor Relations & Disputes

Cozen O’Connor represents a broad spectrum of private and public sector employers in labor relations and disputes. For our unionized clients, we handle unfair labor practice proceedings and grievance arbitrations; negotiate individual and multi-employer collective bargaining agreements; prepare for and respond to picket lines, strikes, lockouts, and other economic campaigns; and work with employers during union election campaigns. We also help employers avoid unionization through positive employee relations and regain nonunion status when employees indicate they no longer wish to be union-represented. We are experienced labor litigators, appearing frequently before federal, state, and appellate courts; federal agencies and departments (such as the EEOC, NLRB, DOL, IRS, OSHA, and ICE); state agencies and departments; and arbitration panels.

For our unionized clients, our labor practice is committed to fostering constructive management-labor relations over the long term. Our focus is on protecting our clients’ interests, with a recognition that a working relationship with union counterparts is often a desired goal.

Cozen O’Connor’s traditional labor attorneys demonstrate a real commitment to understanding and supporting their clients’ business goals. We think not only about the technical legal matters, but also about how labor issues connect in a practical sense to business operations and strategy. Our attorneys manage labor relations with a clear eye toward the bottom line.



  • Defend clients in unfair labor practice proceedings and handle grievance arbitrations
  • Negotiate individual and multi-employer collective bargaining agreements
  • Prepare for and respond to picketing, strikes, lockouts and other economic tactics
  • Work with employers to avoid unionization through positive employee relations or to regain nonunion status when employees no longer wish to be union-represented
  • Advise clients on the labor relations consequences of business events, including mergers, spin-offs, acquisitions, and bankruptcies
  • Represent employers in significant labor-related litigations, mediations, and arbitrations



Supreme Court Cans Three Obama Recess Appointments to the National Labor Relations Board [Labor & Employment Alert]

June 26, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court today released its much-anticipated opinion in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, holding that President Obama exceeded his authority in appointing Sharon Block, Richard Griffin, and Terrence Flynn to the NLRB during a three-day recess of the Senate. Because the appointments were invalid, only the two previously appointed members of the board could legitimately conduct board business, which is insufficient to constitute the necessary quorum. By affirming the decision of the D.C. Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court struck down the board’s decision in Noel Canning — and implicitly invalidated all other decisions rendered by the Block/Griffin/Flynn/Pearce/Hayes-constituted board.

First and Ten: Will College Athletes Be the Next Wave of Unionization? [Labor & Employment Alert]

March 28, 2014

Everyone recognizes that college athletics are big business for the schools, but do they exploit the student athletes under the guise of amateurism? Thanks to a new decision out of the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board, we will likely find out if scholarship athletes will be treated as employees with the right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. On March 26, 2014, the NLRB regional director concluded that the scholarship recipients on the Northwestern University football team are employees and ordered an election to determine if they desire union representation.

Supreme Court Holds That Items of Protective Clothing Are ‘Clothes’ For Purposes of the FLSA [Labor & Employment Alert]

January 28, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday released its much-anticipated decision in the case of Sandifer v. United States Steel Corporation, and held that Section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — which allows parties to a collective bargaining agreement to decide for themselves through negotiations whether “time spent in changing clothes … at the beginning or end of each workday” is compensable — applies to articles of protective clothing such as flame-retardant jackets, pants, hoods, snoods, wristlets, leggings, hardhats, work gloves and steel-toed boots.

Leaving the Door Open to Departing Employees [The Legal Intelligencer]

July 02, 2013

Remember that group of employees laid off a few months ago? One has applied for a new job opening and was not rehired. Now that employee is claiming that the company has engaged in unlawful, discriminatory action in failing to rehire her. This scenario is all too real. Indeed, Gonzalez v. Molded Acoustical Products of Easton, 118 FEP Cases 877 (E.D. Pa. 2013), a recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, should remind employers of the risk exposure associated with hiring for positions that were previously impacted by reductions-in-force.

Circuit Court Ruling that NLRB Recess Appointments were Constitutionally Invalid Calls into Question Enforceability of 2012 NLRB Decisions [Labor & Employment Alert]

January 28, 2013

On Friday, January 25, 2013, in Noel Canning v. NLRB, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that President Barack Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were constitutionally invalid, throwing into question the enforceability of all NLRB decisions issued by the Board since January 2012. The petitioner in the case argued that a February 8, 2012 NLRB order was invalid because three members of the five-member Board (Sharon Block, Terence F. Flynn and Richard F. Griffin) were improperly appointed as recess appointments.

NLRB Overrules Anheuser-Busch: Witness Statements Now Subject to Disclosure [Labor & Employment Alert]

January 08, 2013

Last year, we notified you that the National Labor Relations Board will now consider a general employer rule requiring confidentiality during an internal investigation into an employee complaint to be an unfair labor practice. The Board has now taken things even further.

NLRB Issues Decision Protecting Union Coffers [Labor and Employment Alert]

December 21, 2012

Historically, employers have been free to discontinue union dues check-off arrangements upon the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) changed that long-standing rule on December 12, overturning 50 years of precedent and ruling employers must honor dues check-off arrangements until the parties execute a new collective bargaining agreement or reach a bargaining impasse. The fact that this decision came just one day after Michigan joined the ranks of Right-to-Work states, by banning requirements that non-union employees pay union dues, raises the question of whether the NLRB is seeking to give where state legislatures take away.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

2017 Labor and Employment Law Update - Chicago

October 05, 2017 - Chicago, IL

Labor and Employment Law Update

June 14, 2017 - Philadelphia, PA

Critical Employment Law Issues for 2015

November 05, 2014 - Philadelphia, PA

In The News

2018 U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" Ranks Cozen O’Connor

February 01, 2018

In the 2018 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms, Cozen O’Connor is ranked nationally in 17 practice areas and regionally in 64 practice areas.

Cozen O'Connor ranked in 2017 U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms"

November 23, 2016

Firms included in the 2017 "Best Law Firms" list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.

Sixty-Two Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 15, 2016

Sixty-two Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 13 of the firm’s national offices have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

David Barron Discusses Right-to-Work States in Society for Human Resource Management

August 28, 2014

In an article titled “Myths Abound About Right-to-Work States,” David Barron, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the relationship between companies and unions in right-to-work states. “The reality is that companies often get along better with unions in right-to-work states because the union must actively justify its usefulness to newly hired workers and existing employees who can withdraw at any time. This incentivizes the company and union to work together for mutual benefit,” says David.