Exciting New Additions to the Firm
Bush Gottlieb is pleased to announce the recent addition of two new partners to the Firm, in further...
Favorable Ninth Circuit Decision on Pro Bono Appeal
On June 7, 2021, second-year associate Vanessa Wright represented Robert Drake Ewbank at oral argume...
Countdown to Equity: Mothers, Educators and Unions Put The Department of Education on a 90-day Notice to Address Racial Inequities in Public Education
On March 23, 2021, the Fulfill the Promise Coalition, which is a national group of parents, educator...View all News
In 1970, young lawyers active in the student civil rights and anti-war movement founded the firm in makeshift offices on Bonnie Brae Street in downtown Los Angeles, determined to dedicate their practice of law to advance the cause of working people. From the firm’s inception, we have been committed to providing our clients with the highest quality legal services, and we continue to devote our time and energies to the principle that our clients and the important work they do deserve the very best advocacy and counsel. Through the ensuing decades, as the name of the firm has changed and its expertise has evolved with the needs of its union and trust fund clients, the firm remains true to its original purpose of supporting progressive social movements wherever we can be of service — in the courtroom, the boardroom, the halls of Sacramento and Washington, D.C., from the rural reaches of Watsonville, California, to the city streets of Los Angeles.
This uncompromising approach has borne fruit in numerous significant reported judicial and administrative decisions handled by our attorneys.1 In the 70s, the firm won a breakthrough Title VII class action victory2 for female flight attendants unfairly subject to airline weight restrictions. That success led to the firm’s representation of the flight attendants’ union at Continental Airlines, and the pitched labor battles against its CEO Frank Lorenzo in and out of the bankruptcy courts in the airline industry in the 1980s. Those battles resonate today as the airline unions we represent continue to fight major air carriers seeking economic concessions in bankruptcy.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the firm litigated a number of class action Title VII actions against the Pacific Maritime Association which resulted in consent decrees that required the integration of longshore, clerk and other positions in the Los Angeles- Long Beach harbor.3
In the 1980s, litigation highlights for the firm included convincing the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to stop what was to be the largest airline merger ever,4 and breaking new ground in affording unions the discretion they need to fairly represent employees in the grievance and arbitration process.
During the late 1980s and 1990s, the firm continued to expand its practice, representing unions bargaining for aerospace workers throughout Southern California, airline employees throughout the United States, supermarket employees, teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and actors, directors and the basic crafts in the vibrant Southern California entertainment industry. In that period, the firm established its signature bankruptcy practice built upon its participation in the airline collapses of the 1980s, representing unions whose members’ fundamental interests are threatened by employers’ insolvency. During the same period, it extended its expertise into plaintiff’s tort litigation, including asbestos/toxic tort, product liability and Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) litigation. The firm also successfully represented the Justice for Janitors organizing campaign in police brutality litigation against the Los Angeles Police Department.
The litigation highlight for the 90s was our triumph in the United States Supreme Court for the Screen Actors Guild rejecting a “right to work” attack5 against provisions found in the union’s collective bargaining agreements and in similar agreements nationwide. The firm successfully undermined other “right to work”6 assaults on public sector clients, gained relief against employers engaging in corporate “sleight of hand”7 to undermine employees’ rights to union representation, fought to provide the widest berth8 for grievance and arbitration protective of those employees, and built legal barriers against overreaching claims of union liability.9 In 1993-94, the firm helped its clients establish the largest employee stock ownership program in the United States, at United Airlines. We also participated in securing proper overtime wage payments for represented employees in the public sector.
The firm has successfully harnessed commercial law doctrines to serve workers’ interests. Most significantly in the film industry, the firm has represented the entertainment guilds in all major industry bankruptcies since 1988. As a consequence of this experience, the firm pioneered and developed a unique practice of obtaining security interests in employer film assets to ensure payment of residuals to directors, performers and writers, and made that practice pay off in the bankruptcy courts where major insolvent production companies sought relief from their creditors, but could not escape their secured obligations owed to entertainment unions. The firm has also succeeded in the legislative arena10 in enhancing residuals collection.
In the last decade, the firm has expanded its representation of trust funds, counseling pension and health plans that provide benefits to employee participants in the construction, entertainment and other industries, and providing litigation services to protect the integrity of the plans. The firm has also played a prominent role in protecting employees’ rights to all appropriate forums for pursuing wage and hour claims,11 an area where the firm anticipates growth and opportunity for unions in Southern California. Airline labor litigation continues to be hard-fought, with this firm in the forefront of impeding carriers’ attempts to curtail employees’ ability to maintain job security12 and express dissatisfaction at work.13 The firm continues its active plaintiffs’ tort, employment and business litigation practice, which it has expanded through its service as local counsel in counties throughout the State of California and in the California federal district courts, associating with counsel from Oregon, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, New York, South Carolina and the District of Columbia.
Looking forward, we anticipate continued growth in our representation of multi employer pension and health plans in the entertainment, construction and other industries, steady concentration on litigation and transactional support for unions and injured workers, counseling of clients in the related fields of government regulation and legislation, and an increasing emphasis on representing unrepresented employees who have claims based on violations of state and local laws, such as wage and hour, antidiscrimination, and whistleblower protection statutes.
Other prominent published cases in which our firm’s attorneys have been involved include: