Professor James Brudney, Joseph Crowley Chair in Labor and Employment Law, spoke with Law360 on how the abrupt dismissal of UAW general counsel Abigail Carter at the end of June might impact negotiations
James Brudney is co-chair of the UAW-created Public Review Board, a neutral panel of legal experts that hears appeals from union members against either their local or international chapter, including from members who work for the union itself. Brudney, who holds a professor chair in labor and employment law at Fordham University School of Law, told Law360 Pulse that he did not hear of Carter’s ouster through an appeal to the board, but read about it in the press.
He said the axed lawyers may have received a settlement or may have chosen to pursue a remedy through “other adversarial mechanisms.”
As to Carter’s impact on negotiations, Brudney said he assumes she or one of her in-house counsel was sitting on the negotiating team.
“We’re in a somewhat unusual situation now because negotiations are usually being conducted by a president who has been in office for a while and has presumably been working with his or her general counsel for a while,” he said. Fain, a third generation autoworker at a Chrysler plant, was elected union president only six months ago.
Brudney said he assumes that Fain, who has been on negotiating teams in the past, has retained either in-house or outside counsel to advise the union going forward.
“I’m quite confident that they’re getting experienced legal advice,” added Brudney, who also served for six years as chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor and, like Carter, formerly worked at Bredhoff & Kaiser.