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Rod Tanner Shareholder Rod Tanner & Associates, Fort Worth When the machinists union went on strike against Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth last April, Rod Tanner was in the thick of things. After 17 days that included a significant amount of litigation, the strike was settled. Even in a right-to-work state, Tanner finds plenty of traditional labor law cases and represents numerous unions and their affiliates, with the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, being his biggest client. He also represents individuals in employment cases. Tanner, 49, received his J.D. in 1976 from the University of Texas School of Law. He has worked in the labor and employment arena since completing a judicial clerkship in 1978, and formed his present firm in 1999. He became interested in the role of labor unions during his summer employment with Greyhound Bus Lines when he was a teen-ager. That interest solidified when he took a labor law class with the late Jerre Williams at the University of Texas. One of his cases that had the biggest impact was one that he lost, Tanner says. In International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, et al. v. General Dynamics Corp., the plaintiffs alleged that the company had laid off workers without 60 days’ notice. A federal judge ruled against Tanner’s clients, saying that termination of a contract the company had was not foreseeable. But, Tanner says, companies now almost always give the notice. On the win side, Tanner successfully argued Aiello v. United Airlines, in which the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employee handbook may create contractual obligations in spite of a disclaimer. Tanner likes the challenge of working in a field in which the law evolves quickly. “There are always new decisions and new statutes that impact employers and employees,” he says. “I greatly enjoy the aspects of traditional labor law, including the collective bargaining aspect.”

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