Chuck Birenbaum is an experienced labor and employment partner with a national client base. He represents employers in traditional labor matters, employment law, and benefits law. He has extensive litigation experience in courts and administrative agencies regulating employers. Mr. Birenbaum has testified before state legislative committees on proposed legislation impacting entire industries. He has held workshops with regulators on labor issues involving heath care, energy, construction, and other industries. Mr. Birenbaum has negotiated and interfaced with politicians, regulators, labor organizations, and industry leaders to resolve complex issues for his clients: in one case, he assisted a client with a problem involving the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Mayor of San Francisco, and regulators at the U.S. Department of Interior, National Labor Relations Board, U.S. Department of Labor, and a federal judge presiding over a related litigation. Government entities expert in interpretation of their laws have retained Mr. Birenbaum to assist in litigation. For example, Mr. Birenbaum represented the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in federal court. Mr. Birenbaum’s client service has created client loyalties that have spanned decades.
Examples of Mr. Birenbaum’s trial experience include a race harassment class action in U.S. District Court, a noncompetition trial in California Superior Court under Cal. B&P Code 17200 et seq., multiple unfair labor practice hearings before the National Labor Relations Board, and multiple arbitrations.
Most recently, Mr. Birenbaum served as lead trial counsel for the defendants in Adams et al. v. Pinole Point Steel Company et al. (No. C-92-1962MHP, N.D.Cal. September 26, 2012). In September of 2012, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, rendered a defense judgment with a 66-page opinion for a group of steel companies in a race harassment class action certified by the court over 15 years ago. The decision reflected the court’s concern that alleged acts of harassment were too remote in time, caused no harm, or were unrelated to each other such that no class relief was warranted under law. The court also noted that the class certification was probably unwarranted based on the trial record. Class counsel did not appeal the judgment.
Mr. Birenbaum’s appellate work includes decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit under the National Labor Relations Act, Labor Management Relations Act, and the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act.
In the area of traditional labor law, Mr. Birenbaum has a broad array of experience in collective bargaining, union organizing, and trust fund litigation. He has first chaired collective bargaining for all bargaining units at a health care system; first chaired collective bargaining over a bargaining unit of RN’s at a dialysis provider; first chaired collective bargaining for construction agreements covering billions of dollars of heavy infrastructure development; first chaired collective bargaining for a steel manufacturer and fabricator. This representation involves representation of employers targeted with corporate campaigns, special legislation, “greenmail” activities, and litigation. Mr. Birenbaum’s traditional labor law practice is supported by employers in construction, energy, health care, manufacturing, and service industries.
Honors and Awards
Mr. Birenbaum has been honored by numerous organizations for his outstanding practice of labor and employment law. In 2011 alone, Chambers USA listed him for his work in labor and employment law, HR Magazine named him one of the nation's top 100 most powerful labor attorneys, and The Daily Journal singled him out as one of California's top 75 labor attorneys.
He has also been listed in The Best Lawyers in America for labor and employment law from 2007-2012. Mr. Birenbaum also has been honored every year from 2004-2013 as a Northern California Super Lawyer, a distinction reserved for attorneys ranked in top five percent in the state. Additionally, he was recognized by American Registry as one of America's Most Honored Professionals in 2011.
Mr. Birenbaum is a member of Winston & Strawn’s Partnership Compensation Committee, the State Bar of California, and the Bar Association of San Francisco. He is an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association Employment Law Panel. He is a member of Georgetown University Law Center’s National Law Alumni Board and on the President’s Advisory Council for Oberlin College (2011 to present). Mr. Birenbaum previously served as president of the Lawyers Club of San Francisco and was an adjunct professor at the Santa Clara University Law School. Mr. Birenbaum also served as Managing Partner of Winston & Strawn’s San Francisco office (2004-2012) and was a member of the firm’s Executive Committee (2004-2012), the Operations Committee (2004-2012), and served as chair of the San Francisco Labor & Employment practice group (2004-2010).
At Thelen Reid & Priest from 1986-2003, Mr. Birenbaum served in various management capacities including National Managing Partner for Client Services (2001-2003), Chair of the Labor & Employment Department (1996-2003), Managing Partner for the Los Angeles Office (1996-2001), and was a member of various committees including the Partnership Council (1996-2003).
Mr. Birenbaum received a B.A. in Government, with honors, from Oberlin College in 1979 and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1982.
Speeches and Publications
Mr. Birenbaum has published articles addressing a variety of labor and employment issues in both the public and private sectors, and has lectured at seminars, workshops, and continuing education programs.
Mr. Birenbaum’s recent speaking engagements include: moderator “The General Counsel as a Strategic Business Partner,” Argyle's Executive Forum's Corporate Counsel Leadership Forum, October 2011 (New York); moderator, “Ethical Considerations for Companies and Candidates Before, During & After Job Search,” Hard-To-Find CLE Credits Program presented by the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), January 2010 (Santa Clara, CA) and January 2011 (Burlingame, CA); speaker, “Impact of the Stimulus Package on California's Power Market,” Platts’ 5th Annual California Power Market Forum, San Francisco (November 2009); speaker, “Employee Fraud and Conducting Effective Internal Investigations,” Silicon Valley Association of General Counsel All Hands Meeting, Santa Clara, CA (December 2009); and moderator, “Ethical Issues When In-House Counsel Change Companies,” at the Hard-To-Find CLE Credits Program, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, San Francisco (January 2009).
He is the co-author of: “Seeking: Permanent Solutions for Temporary Workers,” Employment Law, September 1998; “The Alternative Workforce: Risks and Opportunities for American Businesses,” The Corporate Analyst, November 1997; “Supreme Court Decision Explains How the Impact of Section 510 of ERISA Can Be Avoided When a Staffing Company Takes Over an Existing Workforce,” The Voice of the Temporary Industry, California Association of Temporary and Staffing Services, August 1997; “Temporary Service, Staffing Companies and Their Customers: Are They Joint Employers or Not?,” The Voice, An Industry Bulletin, California Association of Temporary Services, No. 2, 1995.
He is the author of: “The Evolution of Construction Union Greenmail: Legal and Political Developments, Adverse Consequences, and Combat Tips,” Employee Relations Law Journal (Aspen Vol. 35, No. 4 Spring 2010); “Construction Labor Law Issues of the 1990s,” Chapter 11, Construction Contractor’s Handbook of Business and Law, pp. 279-321, Wiley Law Publications, 1992; “Employee Screening Techniques: Advantages and Pitfalls,” Chapter 6, Proceedings of New York University 44th Annual National Conference on Labor, pp. 131-175, New York University, 1991; “Attorney or Persuader: Analysis of New Law Under The LMRDA,” San Francisco Attorney Magazine, February 1989; and “Joint Employer Exemptions Under The National Labor Relations Act: Will The Real NLRB Please Stand Up,” 24 Santa Clara Law Review 371 (Spring 1984)