"They call me the patron saint of lost causes," admits Levy Ratner Partner Daniel Engelstein, "but when everything looks bad—the law is bad, the economic environment is bad—I design creative solutions that overcome all the negatives and get my clients where they want to go." A willingness to embark on difficult journeys and to travel unfamiliar roads to reach a desired destination underpins Danny's 35-year career representing unions and workers in diverse industries and occupations. These include newspaper pressmen and printers, building service workers, administrative and clerical workers, legal aid lawyers, maritime employees, musicians, tug boat crews, health care workers, stage managers, manufacturing workers, grocery store employees and professional athletes.
Danny approaches his practice with a frank and pragmatic style that helps clients avoid missteps and achieve their objectives, while keeping negotiations with opponents open and productive. "I don't play 'gotcha' with the other side," Danny says, "because, especially in labor relations, where you are likely to have a continuing relationship with clients and opponents, being honest and straightforward has benefits at the negotiating table." In fact, by relying on this approach, Danny has realized tens of millions of dollars for unions and workers, including:
Securing a $3 million settlement and the ouster of trustees in successful ERISA litigation seeking to protect a local labor union and its benefit funds from mismanagement and corruption
Obtaining and confirming an arbitration award upholding a novel enforcement of a no-lock provision in a collective bargaining agreement
Collecting $10 million in back pay and benefits owed employees laid off by a "runaway" employer in violation of the labor agreement
Collecting more than $9 million in lost wages and benefits withheld by a nursing home operator
Achieving enforcement of multiemployer bargaining unit obligations in multiple cases affecting printers and typographers
Protecting the AFL-CIO from a union's attempt to circumvent legitimate membership requirements
Successfully challenging the denial of a pension for an employee targeted by trustees of a pension plan
Protecting employees' right to have a union of their own
Ensuring a union's survival in the face of a failed industrywide strike by successfully prosecuting unfair labor practice charges.
Danny also represents individual employees in matters ranging from large class actions to individual claims, from court cases to administrative proceedings to reversing arbitrary denials of disability insurance benefits. "Individual workers may not always have access to the kind of representation unions and large institutions can afford," he says, "but protecting their rights is just as important." For these clients, Danny not only seeks solutions that compensate for the wrongs workers experienced, but also finds ways to help them move beyond the dispute at hand to build a new future for themselves and their families.
Recently, Danny has begun serving on the mediation panel for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and acting as an arbitrator. "Mediation and arbitration are really extensions of the way I work, even when I'm advocating for clients because I believe people need a sounding board and a way out of demonizing the other side," he explains. "It opens the door to thinking about how you can move things around to get to where you want to go with a solution that might look a bit more like what the other side is asking for."
Danny joined Levy Ratner in 1996, after practicing for nearly two decades at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, PC, where he served on the Management Committee. Before entering private practice in New York, Danny worked first as an assistant district attorney in the Major Violators Division of the Suffolk County District Attorneys' Office in Boston, Massachusetts and later as Staff Counsel to John A. Penello, a member of the National Labor Relations Board.
Admitted to practice in New York, Massachusetts, District of Columbia