Services Offered –
Cline & Associates Attorneys at Law
Our Guild and Association clients are usually represented on a fixed retainer basis but we also offer hourly fee arrangements. Flat fee retainers extend the following legal services:
Collective Bargaining Rights Enforcement
Officer Involved Use of Lethal Force
Training Opportunities and Discounts
Website Premium Content Access
We offer flat fee retainers in three forms: 1)”Full retainer,” which covers all collective bargaining legal representation; 2)”Limited retainer,” which is offered at a substantially lower fee, but does not involve attorney presence at the bargaining table and requires certain litigation co-payments; and 3) “Information and Advice” retainer, which has an even lower rate and provides you most of the information you might need, but does not cover attorney time in the event of litigation or other hearings. Details of these flat fee retainer agreements can be viewed here.
Cline and Associates will thoroughly evaluate your contract to identify legal issues or other potential problems or limitations with your existing agreement. Using our various proprietary tools, we will compare your contract to those of other agencies.
We will survey “comparable” jurisdictions using our Demographic and Compensation databases. The Demographic database enables us to match jurisdictions by certain criteria and acquire detailed demographic data on each jurisdiction.
Using our Compensation database, we will conduct a wage and benefit survey showing how your wages and benefits compare to those agencies. We will evaluate also your actual language in comparison to the actual contract language of your comparables by running a report in our proprietary Contract Term database.
We will confer with you prior to contract negotiations to determine your bargaining objectives, and will then draft proposals for you and discuss any revisions to the proposals before submission. Throughout negotiations, we will assist you in identifying your priorities and discuss various strategies to meet your objectives.
Throughout the period of negotiations, we will continue to closely monitor settlement trends and relevant economic and fiscal conditions. We will analyze your Employer’s budget and evaluate any claimed limits on its ability to pay. Through our periodic newsletters and access to our Premium Content Website, we will help you learn about relevant trends affecting your negotiations.
For full retainer clients, we will assist in negotiating the contract by providing an attorney at each bargaining session. We will serve, upon request, as your chief spokesperson throughout negotiations. (For limited retainer clients, we will not have an attorney normally present in person although individual session attendance can be arranged on an hourly fee basis.) Our attorney will help you evaluate the employer’s proposals and help you make appropriate responses to those proposals. This assistance will continue throughout any mediation.
We will help you identify and evaluate the risks and benefits of accepting proposals against your other alternatives, including arbitration. We will identify and draft tentative agreement language. We will also assist in the development and drafting of any final agreement. If requested, we will help explain the settlement to your members at a contract ratification meeting.
For those who are eligible for interest arbitration, Cline and Associates provides comprehensive representation. Interest arbitration preparation and presentation has become highly technical and complex, and we maintain expertise in this complex area. We will use our state-of-the-art Demographic and Compensation Databases to develop charts, graphs, and documents to present at the arbitration hearing. We generate a contract term comparison report from our proprietary Contract Term database. We will utilize our extensive propriety preparation materials to collect, evaluate, and organize evidence. Using our proprietary reference bank, we will identify other relevant documents that support your position in the hearing. We will work together with your bargaining team to collect other documents and reports that relate to local and agency issues that we might offer as evidence.
We will organize these documents into trial notebooks. We will present these documents and reports to the Arbitrator at the hearing. We will help you identify and present testimony of witnesses who will support your position on arbitration issues. We will also use our proprietary interest arbitration materials and Master Brief bank to prepare and file any post-hearing briefs to support your argument.
Cline and Associates provides clients with advice regarding contract interpretation, including the evaluation of potential grievances, and submits opinion letters detailing our evaluations on each issue. We send emails, draft letters, and make telephone calls whenever needed in order to assist in the contract enforcement process.
In the event grievances are unresolved and are to be submitted to arbitration, we prepare and present your case. We use our proprietary brief bank and research libraries combined with our extensive experience to submit the best possible legal brief on your behalf.
Cline and Associates provides legal advice at all stages of discipline representation. We are available for advice and representation at the initial stages of discipline, including investigation interviews and pre-disciplinary conferences.
In the event an employee is disciplined and a grievance or civil service appeal is filed, we help evaluate the merits of such appeals. For particularly difficult cases, we assist you in evaluating the grievance, generally through formal opinion letters and conferences. In the event a grievance is pursued to a hearing, we again provide an attorney to prepare and present the appeal. (And in the event an employer refuses to abide by the “final and binding” arbitration award, we will take all necessary court action to enforce any successful reinstatement award.)
We provide extensive training and written materials (the Representatives Manual, our newsletter, and our 3 blogs) for Guild and Association representatives, so they can provide informed representation. We also provide training to your membership so they understand their rights during the discipline process, including our Member Handbook and our Employee Rights Cards.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS
Cline and Associates provides legal advice regarding all collective bargaining rights issues. We evaluate potential Unfair Labor Practice claims and assist through correspondence and telephone calls, where necessary, to enforce such rights. When a group’s collective bargaining rights are violated, at your request, we will prepare an Unfair Labor Practice Complaint and file it with the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC). If a Complaint goes to a hearing, we will prepare and present your case at the hearing. We draft and submit post hearing briefs making legal arguments in support of your Complaint.
OFFICER INVOLVED USE OF LETHAL FORCE
For officers who are involved in lethal force, quality legal representation is of paramount importance especially before the officer provides a written or verbal statement regarding the incident. Our attorneys are available on a 24-hour emergency basis to respond to such incidents and provide immediate representation to such officers. Attorneys are accessible through our Call-Service. One of our attorneys will be available for immediate representation as needed and will assist in reviewing any lethal force report. We will provide legal advice and counsel throughout the process. In the event use-of-force situations result in a civil inquest proceeding, at the Association’s request, Cline and Associates will provide an attorney to represent the officer at the hearing.
We hope to be of maximum assistance before there is a lethal force incident. We will assist you in developing contract language and department policies that safeguard your members’ rights. Through our training and information, we hope to ensure that your members’ rights are safeguarded before an incident ever occurs.
INJURED OFFICER REPRESENTATION
Public Safety employees injured in the line of duty are covered by a variety of laws (both state and federal), disability insurance (including workers compensation) but also by the labor contract. Some of the rights can be enforced through the labor organization and some can only be enforced through legal actions filed by the injured officer on an individual basis. When one of your members is seriously injured, they are likely to find themselves in a precarious position, addressing their medical situation while not knowing how long their wages will continue.
Our retainer coverage extends to all representation injury/disability rights representation for which the Guild or Association has standing. That includes representation to ensure that an officer is not discharged without just cause and that your members receive all the other protection of the CBA. For example, CBA’s often incorporate expressly or “by reference” rights under disability laws and the FMLA.
Officers injured in the line of duty are often covered by Worker’s Compensation or LEOFF rules. While ultimately these claims are individual in nature, and cannot be filed by the Guild or Association, we provide an assessment and referral service, through the umbrella of your union. This assessment and referral service allows your members to better understand their legal rights and options.
Sometimes the best legal recourse is for your members to enforce their rights individually, rather through the Guild or Association CBA. While individual claims are not included in the retainer coverage, where approved by the union and when no professional conflict of interest exists because Guild recourse has been exhausted or is undesirable, Cline and Associates may undertake representation on an individual basis on behalf your members through our Employment Law Practice. These fee arrangements are made between your member (or former member) and the firm and incur no expense to your union. But such availability gives you have the peace of mind that your members will be effectively represented when it counts. We have experience and demonstrated results representing injured public safety employees using our own attorneys, but in the event a referral to other legal counsel is appropriate, we will also help your members identify and get in contact with other well-qualified workers compensation and disability lawyers.
We believe that training clients so they can better represent their own interests is crucial. Toward that end, we provide extensive training services.
We issue a regular newsletter, The Cline and Associates Newsletter, containing reports on developments of interest to our labor organizations. The Cline and Associates Newsletter contains recent arbitration and court rulings, contract settlement trend reports, and updates on developments in the economy. Clients have access to the Premium Content Website allowing them to view the detailed materials referenced in the newsletter. This Premium Content privilege also includes access to an organized archive of prior newsletter articles.
We provide an annual client training seminar which provides representatives an opportunity to acquire in-depth information regarding a full range of representational issues. The seminar includes distribution of Jim Cline’s newest book, The Rights of Washington Public Safety Employees: Representative’s Manual. For our clients and Premium Content subscribers, an on-line version of the book with hyperlinks from its detailed table of contents to its text is available.
We also periodically, at a client’s request, provide a condensed version of the training materials directly to your members, so they are aware of their basic legal and contractual rights. An especially useful tool written by Jim Cline and used for this member training is the Washington Public Safety Employees: Member Handbook. This pocket-sized booklet is made available for members.
WEBSITE PREMIUM CONTENT ACCESS
Perhaps our most innovative and unique service offered is our Premium Website Content. This service allows our clients and subscribers access to proprietary materials not available on the free portion of this website. For our retainer-represented clients, this service is already included in the retainer. A more complete description of the Website Premium Content service is described here.