Sweet and Associates, LLC is a boutique law firm created exclusively to provide thoughtful, responsive, integrative representation to labor unions throughout the State of Wisconsin. Created in 2001, the firm has thrived on providing effective advocacy in all aspects of labor representation, including state and federal litigation, advocacy before administrative agencies, grievance arbitration, contract negotiations, and internal union advice. The firm has represented a wide array of labor, from meeting the diverse needs of the largest private and public sector unions in the State to providing personal, timely, responsive guidance to newly elected officers of small unions.
The law firm recognizes the value of a thoughtful and effective legal component within the labor movement and strives daily to assist Wisconsin unions in giving a voice to working Wisconsin. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted, “We must make our choice. We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few; but we can’t have both.”
Internal Union Counseling
Wisconsin labor unions face an increasingly complex set of legal issues. To succeed, grow, and provide an effective voice to working Wisconsin, labor must be advised in a meaningful way regarding the scope and limits of labor law. The law firm regularly provides ongoing advice to many union clients, including in the following areas:
Steward and Leadership Training
Administration of agency-fee or fair-share systems
The Union as employer
The law firm provides advice on a wide range of issues that arise for unions in their capacity as employers, including dealing with their own employees and staff unions. This work includes defending unions in arbitrations and other proceedings brought by employees of the organization or by a staff union, and advising unions about compliance with federal, state and local laws applicable to unions and employers.
Collective Bargaining and Employment Disputes
The law firm regularly negotiates collective bargaining agreements on behalf of local unions, in both the private and public sectors, across a wide range of industries. We also provide advice to unions during corporate reorganizations that may or may not affect contractual rights, workers’ seniority, and other benefits.
We are called upon frequently to advise clients concerning the legal implications of various bargaining strategies and corporate campaign activities.
Protected Concerted Activity and Civil Service Hearings
The firm provides experienced, efficient, and effective advocacy on behalf of individual employees in grievance-arbitration, administrative proceedings, licensure hearings, and civil service hearings. These include disciplinary hearings and other grievances before County boards, City civil service commissions, and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. The firm has also gained national recognition for its successful advocacy on behalf of employees and worker advocacy groups to enforce rights to engage in protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.
To learn more about the firm’s work on behalf of organized labor, see these descriptions:
Sweet And Associates, LLC has been called upon by the largest labor councils and unions in the State to provide advice regarding pending legislative actions. For example, we have consulted regarding creation and enforcement of clean clothes ordinances, local purchasing ordinances, labor peace ordinances, licensure regulations, and various other legislative matters.
In addition to its representation of unions, the firm has been called upon by a wide array of working people including grocery workers, bus drivers, child care providers, administrators, teachers, principals, and doctors. The firm represents individuals in various settings, including review and negotiation of employment contracts, severance agreements, and civil rights and other employment-related cases.
Employment and Civil Rights
The firm provides free consultations to union members and their families regarding employment issues and civil rights violations. We have represented classes of several hundred employees regarding pay issues at work and prevailed in cases providing millions of dollars in backpay to union employees. We also advocate to protect employee and retiree pension, health care, and other benefits earned during employment. The firm has handled numerous individual claims of race, gender, and disability discrimination. In addition, we have been entrusted in representation of employees in contract disputes or termination cases.
Lawyers in the firm handle all issues arising under a collective bargaining agreement and being processed toward resolution through grievances and arbitration. Common issues include discipline and discharge, implementation of furlough days, interference with seniority rights, and unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment.
Interest arbitration is a voluntary process agreed upon between an employer and union to reach agreement regarding terms and conditions of employment. Although currently only utilized as a means of peaceful labor dispute resolution among public safety and transit workers in Wisconsin’s public sector, its benefits have led to application in several private sector industries throughout the State. The law firm has been called upon to advise, prepare contract offers, and advocate to neutrals for both private and public sector unions throughout Wisconsin.
We have proven experience advising both public and private sector labor unions throughout Wisconsin in all aspects of labor law, including organizing, negotiations, arbitration and representation before the National Labor Relations Board, Wisconsin Employment Commission and state and federal courts. We represent a cross section of labor unions all over the state of Wisconsin.
Public Sector Union Organizing in Wisconsin
The story of democracy in the workplace in Wisconsin is still being written. In 2011, during the closed-door meetings that led to the legislation that gutted decades of labor law in Wisconsin, the law firm started a Facebook account that summarized the passion with which the law firm advocates:
I started this Facebook account in order to gain a network of devoted friends to respond actively to the attack on the basic human right of collective bargaining by the Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The attack is a blatant attempt to increase the power of Republicans by attacking the labor movement—all under the guise of fiscal responsibility. I am confident that the vicious power grab is abhorrent to the vast majority in the State of Wisconsin. Join me here to prove me right!
Union organizing as well as advocacy on behalf of groups of workers for mutual aid and protection continue to be protected by Wisconsin law. The understanding of this protection is vital to our democracy, without regard to one’s political party affiliation. If you or your Union are interested in effective, passionate, and responsive legal representation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.