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Hunton & Williams LLP has maintained a traditional labor practice for more than five decades. Today, 25 members of the firm's labor and employment team are seasoned practitioners in complex traditional labor law matters. Our client base includes companies that do not have unions and strongly desire to remain union-free, as well as companies that have historical relationships with organized labor. As a consequence, our practice includes developing and executing strategies to manage all aspects of complex labor-management relations problems, including responding to and terminating corporate campaigns, union representational proceedings, unfair labor practice charges, labor arbitrations, collective bargaining and strike contingency planning and execution.

Corporate Campaigns

In recent years, labor unions, advocacy groups and other NGOs have turned increasingly to the use of public pressure strategies to influence the direction of corporate, human relations and other policies within American businesses. "Corporate campaigns," as they are commonly known, involve a broad array of strategies and tactics designed to place financial, legal, operational and social pressure on a target company in order to force that organization’s compliance with the demands of the campaigning group. Union-driven corporate campaigns typically involve ulterior bargaining or organizing objectives, such as capitulation to bargaining demands, forcing acceptance of organizing agreements or ousting nonunion employers from certain business segments or markets. While the objectives may vary, the tactics used are often the same, and they are often highly sophisticated.

Hunton & Williams has a successful track record of advising companies and trade groups facing the threat of corporate campaign attacks. We have brought a global perspective to the table to devise corporate governance, public relations, labor and litigation solutions for some of the most influential corporations and trade groups in the world. We have been in the trenches dealing with corporate campaigns on a day-to-day basis side by side with our clients, as well as acting in an advisory capacity. In addition to managing the campaigns, we have successfully used litigation strategies to bring these campaigns to a halt.

Union Representation Petitions

We have represented companies in more than 500 election petitions. We typically handle a representational matter from the prepetition stage through postelection proceedings, including hearings on objections to election conduct, unfair labor practice blocking charges and appellate proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or the courts. Our clients' success rate in union representation proceedings is more than 95 percent.

Unfair Labor Practice Charges

We have handled hundreds of complex unfair labor practice charges for employers in various industries throughout the US. We have a track record of successfully defending our clients and are skilled at advising them on how to meet their business objectives through measures that do not run afoul of the law.

Collective Bargaining / Response to Strikes

Our labor attorneys regularly assist clients in preparation for collective bargaining. On many occasions, we serve as the principal negotiator for the client and help determine the successful strategy for achieving our client’s business goals. For many clients, we prepare strike contingency plans, including guidelines on communications to employees and the public, and we provide advice on how best to deal with personnel and benefit issues that typically arise during a work stoppage. We also work closely with the client's security team to address important security concerns and provide advice on steps to preserve evidence that may be necessary to support an injunction if a strike should occur. In addition, we have represented many companies in connection with wildcat strikes, union-sanctioned work stoppages and picketing activity. This includes picketing at primary sites as well as picketing and hand billing at secondary locations where the object is to put pressure on customers of the client.

Section 301 and 303 Litigation

In addition to the injunction actions described above, we also have substantial experience in representing companies in civil actions for damages or other relief brought in the federal courts under Section 301 and Section 303 of the Labor-Management Relations Act. These actions have involved a variety of complex claims, including breach of contract allegations, secondary boycott violations, violations of no-strike obligations, unfair representation allegations and suits to set aside labor arbitration decisions.


Our attorneys handle a large number of labor arbitrations each year that are processed through the grievance/arbitration procedure of collective bargaining agreements. Collectively, we have handled more than 1,500 labor arbitrations for clients in virtually every industry. The cases that we are retained to handle typically involve controversial matters or significant business disputes.


  • Corporate Campaigns:

    • Initiation and prosecution of successful Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) action against a labor union, union executives and affiliated labor organizations in response to a multiyear, multifaceted corporate campaign against Fortune 100 company.
    • Representation of international food service client with over 200,000 employees in the prosecution of claims under RICO against labor union, officials and affiliates, challenging the legitimacy of union tactics and actions during corporate campaign.
    • Regularly advise national and international companies and trade groups facing union corporate campaigns and other nontraditional organizing activity, including customer and product boycotts and shareholder activism.

    Representation Elections:

    • A decisive victory over the IBEW in the union's effort to organize white-collar employees at a southeastern-based power company. This election involved a unit of more than 5,000 employees at 63 voting locations.
    • A retail food company's win over the UFCW in a multistore campaign that targeted more than 500 employees.
    • A wholesale food distribution company's win over the Teamsters in a voting group of more than 400 employees.
    • An electric power company's win over the IBEW in an NLRB election that involved more than 3,500 employees.
    • A hotel resort's victory over the Hotel Restaurant and Bartenders Union in a 500-employee voting unit.
    • A national clothing company's victory over UNITE in a 2,300-employee voting unit that covered seven manufacturing locations in two states.
    • A national building supply company's victories over the Teamsters in a series of elections at distribution locations in several eastern and mid-western states.
    • Decisive election victories over the IBEW in three voting units involving more than 2,300 craft and technical employees.
    • A national discount mall's victory over the UFCW in a 200-employee voting unit.
    • A global packaging company's wins over the GCIU in a series of elections involving employees in Virginia, Illinois and Kentucky.
    • An overwhelming victory for a power company in an organizing attempt by the IBEW at the company's three nuclear plants in North Carolina and South Carolina. Of 656 votes cast, only 157 employees voted for the IBEW.

    Unfair Labor Practice Charges:

    • Representation of a global packaging company that was charged by the Steelworkers' union with violating the NLRA when it unilaterally changed the plan administrator of a company-sponsored health care plan. In this instance, charges were filed by the union in several regions of the NLRB. We were successful in obtaining either outright dismissal of the charges or deferral to the grievance procedure of the applicable labor contracts.
    • Successful representation of a large paper company in numerous charges by the Steelworkers concerning the employer's unilateral implementation of terms and conditions as a result of impasse.
    • Successful defense of a marine design company in its withdrawal of recognition of a union after the union engaged in activity that we believed violated the rights of represented employees. Charges that the company violated the NLRA by withdrawing recognition were dismissed and the union ultimately lost its representational status.
    • Successful defense of an employer charged with violating the NLRA when it eliminated a companywide benefit plan that covered both union and nonunion employees. The union asserted that the company’s decision to discontinue the benefit was a mandatory subject of bargaining. Following months of investigation by various regions of the NLRB, all charges were dismissed or withdrawn with prejudice. This matter involved Regions 6, 10, 11, 15, 16, 25, 26, 30 and 34 of the NLRB.
    • Representation of an auto parts manufacturer in a complaint proceeding based on charges by the IAM that employees who had engaged in a strike were illegally discharged. Following two days of testimony, the case against our client was dismissed.
    • Successful representation of a national food processing company in a complaint proceeding over the termination of various employees who engaged in misconduct in the context of an organizational campaign by the UFCW. This case was ultimately decided in the company’s favor in a decision issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

    Strike Response:

    • Successful litigation on behalf of a client in a labor dispute that led to two state laws being found unconstitutional, which in turn paved the way for effective police action to halt strike violence.
    • Obtained injunctive relief on behalf of a telecommunications company against the CWA in a multistate strike where access routes to various facilities of the company were blocked and company equipment was destroyed.
    • Representation in a RICO action based on strike violence that led to successful settlement of labor dispute and execution of favorable CBAs.
    • Obtained injunctive relief against the Teamsters on behalf of a national carrier where picketing at the company's distribution centers interfered with vehicle ingress and egress.
    • Obtained injunctions prohibiting wildcat strikes and picketing by employees of a chemical company who were protesting the collective bargaining contract that their union had negotiated.
    • Obtained injunctive relief on behalf of a shipbuilding company when a large number of its union-represented employees engaged in a strike in breach of the no-strike provision of the labor agreement.
    • Obtained injunctions against various building trades unions who engaged in strikes and picketing to protest the assignment of work to nonunion contractors at major construction sites. The unions named in the injunctions included the Carpenters, IBEW, Sheet Metal Workers, Laborers, Plumbers, Painters and Plasterers unions.

    Section 301 and 303 Labor Litigation:

    • Recovered $1,000,000 judgment in a Section 303 suit against the Boilermakers Union in the U.S. District Court in West Virginia, which grew out of illegal union activity at a power station.
    • Successful defense of a chemical company to a Section 301 claim that a new manufacturing plant was bound by a labor contract at an adjoining facility.