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Quarles & Brady Secures Labor & Employment Victory

PHOENIX, ARIZ. - On April 23, 2012, an NLRB judge found in favor of Quarles & Brady's client, Redburn Tire Company on all allegations of an NLRB complaint alleging that the company violated its bargaining obligations by prematurely declaring a bargaining impasse, unilaterally implementing its final contract offer and permanently replacing the employees who were called out on strike by the Teamsters Union. Despite more than a dozen bargaining sessions over a six-month period, the parties could not agree on Redburn's proposal that employees should pay a portion of their health care premiums. The judge also dismissed allegations that Redburn had illegally disciplined employees, threatened pickets, interrogated employees, threatened physical harm at the bargaining table and denied strikers access to their 401(k) funds. The decision followed a three-day trial at which Redburn was represented by Quarles & Brady's Jon E. Pettibone, Phoenix office managing partner and chairman of the Firm's Labor & Employment Group and attorney Rachel Robertson.

Don Leffler, Redburn's secretary-treasurer and co-owner, said, "We are very pleased that a neutral judge saw through the numerous and unfounded allegations raised against us and ruled that we had treated our employees and the union fairly and lawfully throughout the bargaining and the strike."

The NLRB recently has stepped up its enforcement activity and many commentators have observed that the NLRB is issuing more complaints, especially against employers. Businesses are faced with the choice between settling those complaints, which involves waiving the right to contest the allegations if the settlement is later set aside by the NLRB because of new charges, or challenging the complaints at trial, with the related expense. The judge's decision underscores that an employer can still protect its rights to bargain in its best interest and operate its business in the face of a strike if it has patience and fortitude.

Judge Gerald Wacknov's decision can be found at www.nlrb.gov.