David B. Kern, Retired Partner

Success Stories

Negotiating Early Contract Extension for Major Defense Contractor

We successfully represented a major defense contractor in early contract extension negotiations tied to a major effort to win additional work for the employer’s unionized facility in Wisconsin. We developed a strategy to persuade the union to come to the table three years prior to contract expiration, and to consider significant concessions in return for a commitment to perform the work at that location. The union was naturally reluctant to commit to a long extension, and we assisted the client in exploring other incentives to create a true win-win opportunity for both sides. This involved not simply pitting a union location against a non-union location, but demonstrating that the concessions sought by the company were supported by comparables in the market. The client ultimately achieved a five-year contract extension, assuring it eight years of labor peace and a labor cost and benefit structure that would enable it to submit a competitive bid to the government.

Negotiating Changes to Local UAW Labor Agreement

We assisted a major Milwaukee-area manufacturer in negotiating significant changes to its labor agreement with the United Automobile Workers. These involved streamlining leave procedures, reducing overtime costs, and eliminating retiree insurance benefits, among others. Our work focused on developing the bargaining strategy, representing the company at the table, developing employee communications, and demonstrating through appropriate benchmarking that the changes sought by the company were consistent with prevailing wages and benefits in the market. We also developed and successfully negotiated new contract language to address and anticipate changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act. We ultimately succeeded in obtaining a five-year contract without a work stoppage, which has already paid dividends in the form of bringing additional work, which had been performed off shore, back to the Milwaukee area.