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Terry Dawson

Terry W. Dawson



11 S. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-3535

P 317-231-7269

F 317-231-7433

Terry Dawson’s practice involves virtually every issue employers confront today, with an emphasis on labor relations, including arbitrations, collective bargaining negotiation, helping employers remain union-free, business strategy and client counseling. Terry also provides daily counseling to employers on complex FMLA and ADA issues.


Terry Dawson’s practice involves virtually every issue employers confront today, with an emphasis on labor relations, including arbitrations, collective bargaining negotiation, helping employers remain union-free, business strategy and client counseling. Terry also provides daily counseling to employers on complex FMLA and ADA issues.

Terry took a unique route to the practice of law. A rock-and-roll disc jockey in his teens and twenties, Terry worked in broadcasting for a decade in news reporting and basketball, baseball and football play-by-play. He was also a music director and later a press secretary for a Congressional candidate in Illinois. After leaving those fields, Terry moved to Indianapolis and joined Barnes & Thornburg, where he has practiced law for nearly three decades.

Terry has negotiated contracts with a number of unions, including the Steelworkers, Teamsters, IBEW, SEIU, AFTRA, UAW, AFSCME, IOE, Carpenters and many others. He offers deep experience arbitrating on behalf of employers, battling to reach his clients’ objectives and to protect their interests and reputation. Terry has also helped clients manage strikes and lockouts, and has handled decision and effects bargaining, midterm contract negotiations and plant closings.

With a detail-oriented approach, Terry represents clients throughout Indiana and across the country in numerous industries, including professional sports teams and organizations, manufacturing, automotive, broadcasting, shipbuilders, cities and municipalities, major retail and grocery stores, museums, utilities and healthcare. He also represents overseas clients located in the U.S., including numerous Japanese and German clients.

Terry has handled scores of union organizing drives and elections across the country – from California to Georgia – including the largest organizing drive in the history of one major union. He has presented the Indiana Chamber of Commerce program, “Remaining Union Free,” for more than two decades and regularly provides training to managers and supervisors on the best practices and strategies for remaining union-free.

In addition to labor relations and client counseling, Terry is known as "the FMLA guy," assisting clients in Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) matters. A large portion of Terry's practice includes counseling employers on dealing with the many everyday practical problems presented by the FMLA and ADA, including strategies for chronic and intermittent leaves and complex leave of absence challenges. He regularly trains employers on topics including FMLA and ADA compliance and strategy, FLSA issues, harassment and the like.

Terry particularly enjoys advising clients on everyday matters in both the private and public sectors, and partnering with businesses to develop strategies to avoid legal problems, achieve business objectives, and deal with the obstacles they confront. He has substantial experience representing employers before federal and state courts and has appeared before many federal and state agencies, such as the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, various state civil rights commissions, OSHA and the Department of Labor. He has handled hundreds of discrimination matters before the EEOC and other employment agencies across the country.

Consistent with his media background, Terry advises clients on media relations and develops strategies for public relations outreach. He has appeared on television, radio and other media outlets discussing numerous topics, including the National Labor Relations Board, union organizing, various legal developments, and the National Football League's labor relations issues.


The Best Lawyers in America, 2014-2024


Defeated Year-Long Corporate Campaign

The UFCW and various union front organizations attacked a major grocery store chain at more than one hundred locations throughout two states with a corporate campaign. The union tried to publicly embarass the company with marches and demonstrations, held a trumped-up "workers rights board" hearing regarding the company's employment practices, issued press releases, created a web site attacking the company, and aggressively sought to organize numerous store locations. Terry created strategies to counter the union's year-long campaign and to protect the company's reputation. After many months of constant pressure, the union filed a petition at only one store. Terry created a campaign, trained managers and supervisors throughout the organization, and developed legal strategy regarding which employees would be eligible to vote. Faced with dwindling support following the employer's campaign, the union withdrew its petition for an election and abandoned its campaign.

Midterm Bargaining Results In Dramatic Savings

A major oil refiner asked Terry to create a strategy to freeze and ultimately eliminate a union pension while in the midst of a multi-year contract. Despite the challenge of a collective bargaining agreement that barred this change absent the union's consent, Terry developed a strategy that resulted in a ratified agreement achieving all of the company's objectives and realizing substantial savings.

Union Disclaims Interest After Bargaining

Terry helped an employer develop a plan to completely rewrite a longstanding collective bargaining agreement, including leaving an underfunded pension plan. After leading the negotiation for weeks, employees voted to ratify the agreement, which resulted in substantially enhanced employer flexibility. Following ratification, employees were unhappy with the union and its approach to bargaining. After asking how they could stop paying dues, Terry helped develop a lawful communication plan to provide factual information regarding the process. When every unit employee informed the union that they no longer wished to pay union dues, the union disclaimed interest and walked away, leaving the company union-free for the first time in more than 60 years.

Reverses Momentum Of Union Organizing Drive

An employer faced its 2nd organizing drive in as many years after making several communication and management missteps. Although managers believed the union had significant momentum and feared the organizing drive was lost, Terry quickly created a strategy to lawfully address the communication errors, took advantage of union misstatements and helped shift the debate to issues that disadvantaged the union and led to a company victory.

City Hires Dawson After Negotiations At A Standstill

An Indiana city had reached a standstill with its sanitation department and called Terry into the negotiations. After taking the lead, he reached a union-recommended tentative agreement. When the union nevertheless, rejected the contract, Terry developed strategy to defeat the union's interest arbitration claim and the parties' tentative agreement was implemented.

Employer Files Petition To Decertify Union

As contract negotiations approached, several employees approached the company and expressed interest in becoming union-free. After capturing the evidence on affidavits, Terry filed an RM petition (an employer's equivalent to an employee decertification petition) with the National Labor Relations Board. Employees ultimately decided they no longer wanted union representation.

Retailer Decertifies at Multiple Locations

A retailer had several union locations in Northern Indiana and Chicago; when a single location sought decertification, the union argued that all locations should be included, apparently believing employees had insufficient cards to support decertification across locations. The union was wrong. After agreeing to expand the unit, Terry helped create a decertification strategy. As a result, every location was ultimately decertified, leaving the company union-free for the first time in many years.

Wage Concessions Ratified

Terry helped devise a strategy to make significant contract changes, including changing the employee method of compensation. After several negotiating sessions,Terry obtained a tentative agreement and recommendation from the bargaining committee.

Trucking/Warehouse Operations Outsourced

An employer decided it wanted to concentrate on its core business and outsource its distribution and warehouse operations. Although four different collective bargaining agreements were involved with different expiration dates and challenging language, a ratified agreement and recommendation was obtained from the union bargaining committee despite also eliminating a multiemployer pension plan.

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