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Labor Relations in Times of Pandemic

We are almost two months into what may become known as the Great Pandemic of 2020.  As labor practitioners subject to “shelter in place” orders, you may be facing questions such as:

  • The employer has indicated that it wants to subject employees to COVID testing when they report back to work.  Can they do that with or without bargaining?
  • The arbitrator has stated that she wants to go forward with an important disciplinary arbitration on Zoom and your adversary seems willing.  Must you agree?  Why shouldn’t you?  What can you do to prepare for this type of a remote proceeding?
  • The language of an Memorandum of Agreement was finally agreed to by the attorneys and representatives for the parties.  It’s time for a ratification vote.  Can the union effectively have the vote using telephone or digital technology?

The above exemplify just a handful of the type of issues that will be discussed by our panel during our May 4, 2020 LUNCH meeting (11:45am to 1:00pm).  Each panelist, from Arbitrator Pat Westerkamp, to management side attorney and blogger Eric Meyer, to CWA organizer Peter Cipparulo, will present a separate set of issues and point of view regarding how labor relations are being conducted during this time of emergency.  Each panelist will put on his own detailed presentation before they enter into a moderated discussion with audience questions.

The event is being provided as a benefit to our members.  



  • 11:45 AM – Introduction and Opening Remarks
  • 12 – 12:15 PM – Eric Meyer, Esq., Fisher & Broyles Law Firm
    “Difficulties in Managing a Remote Workforce”
  • 12:15 – 12:30 PM – Patrick WesterkampWesterkamp ADR, LLC
    “Considerations for Labor Arbitrators Before Undertaking Virtual Hearings” (See PDF)
  • 12:30 – 12:45 PM – Peter CipparuloCWA
    “Union Organization and Activity During COVID-19 Crisis – Experiences from the Frontlines”
  • 12:45 – 1 PM – Q and A Session with Speakers


Eric Meyer, Esq., Fisher & Broyles Law Firm

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner in the Employment Group at FisherBroyles, LLP. FisherBroyles is the world’s first and largest distributed, full-service law firm partnership, with hundreds of partners in 23 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (, which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he’s been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist. #micdrop

Patrick Westerkamp, Westerkamp ADR, LLC

Conflict resolution intrigued Pat Westerkamp ever since grade school when he broke-up a fight between two older students. Following college, Pat entered the ADR field as a staff member with the American Arbitration Association. Over the next ten years he held increasingly responsible positions with AAA, including as Director of its New Jersey Office. Today, as a Member of the National Academy of Arbitrators, he arbitrates labor and employment disputes, throughout the East Coast.

Peter Cipparulo, CWA Local 1038

Peter serves as political director and staff representative for his CWA local.  As staff representative, he represents public and private sector workers by handling grievances, disciplines, and scheduling worksite meetings to educate membership on changes to federal and state law.  In addition, Peter is on the collective bargaining committee for the units that he represents.  His duties as political director include serving as chair for his Local’s Legislative Political Action Committee.  As a former communications director, Peter is well versed in technology.  He runs his Local’s social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and the Local’s website, and is charged with keeping the members in constant contact – both in person and virtually.


United States