W&L Law Alum Parker Denaco ‘68L Wins ABA Labor and Employment Award

Parker and Gayle Denaco

Parker Denaco '68L and wife Gayle at the awards ceremony.

Washington and Lee University law school alumnus Parker Denaco ‘68L received the American Bar Association’s Arvid Anderson Public Sector Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year award for 2012. The award is designated for attorneys who have devoted their entire careers to the advancement and development of public sector labor and employment law at the state and local level.

The award was presented by Joel A. D’Alba, Chair-Elect of the section, before 1200 lawyers attending a nationwide continuing legal education program. Denaco has been an active member of the ABA since 1968, spent fourteen years as the neutral co-chair of the State and Local Government Collective Bargaining committee and, likewise, is an active member of the ADR Section and Judicial Divisions of the ABA.

Denaco graduated from the University of Maine with a B.A. in History and Government and returned to earn an MBA in business after attending law school at W&L. He attended, taught and contributed to courses offered to military officers both at the US Army JAG School in Charlottesville, VA and the US Air Force JAG School at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, AL. He has written about and lectured on topics related to labor law, primarily in the public sector, as well as alternate dispute resolution.

Denaco’s interest in labor law generally dates back to his time in law school when, during the summer months, he was a Labor Investigator for the Maine Department of Labor. His job involved visiting, inspecting and interviewing business owners and employees as part of wage and hour audits as well as workplace safety issues.

After graduating from law school and employment at the Eaton & Peabody law firm in Bangor, ME, Denaco was called to active duty with the Army, as a military police officer. He was the honor graduate from the Military Police Officer School at Ft. Gordon after which he served at Ft. Bragg, NC, both as an executive officer and S-1. During this time, he was certified by the Department of the Army as a Judge Advocate General (JAG), qualified to try courts martial. Thereafter, he was assigned to Inchon, Korea, as the commander and Provost Marshal of the 503rd MP Detachment. During this assignment, he observed and handled labor problems involving civilian employees of the U.S. Army and their terms and conditions of employment.

After returning from Korea, Denaco became the first Executive Director of the Maine Public Employee Labor Relations Board, later to be renamed the Maine Labor Relations Board. This agency originally had jurisdiction for the labor relations activities of police, fire, teacher, and other municipal public employees. While at the Maine board, Denaco was instrumental in the training and preparation of court mediators, served as President and Vice President of the Association of Labor Relations Agencies (ALRA), and was a founding member and director of the New England Consortium of State Labor Relations Agencies (NECSLRA).

Denaco’s article “How Mediation and Fact Finding Break Deadlocks” and later articles on the organizational composition of bargaining units and the use of unit determination hearings were starting points on what had previously been a barren road map   Denaco’s involvement with public sector labor disputes continued to grow, measured, in part, by his placement on the AAA’s “Labor Panel” in 1974, followed by listing with the FMCS and various governmental entities at the state and local government levels. He has been an arbitrator/mediator/fact finder in more than a dozen states and has mediated settlements for bargaining units in excess of ten thousand employees, several on a statewide basis.

Denaco was inducted into National Academy of Arbitrators in 1988 and as a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in 1998. He has generously given of his time in the profession, serving as director for Academic Collective Bargaining Information Service from 1978 to 1981, and as a director for Public Employment Relations Services. He was a charter member of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution as well as a founding member/director of the New England Consortium.

Denaco is a former member of the W&L Law Council and has been active in both state and national bar associations. His participation in ABA sections spans the Labor and Employment Section, the ADR Section and the Judicial Division. He was co-chair of the Labor Section of the Maine Bar Association and the chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the New Hampshire Bar Association.  He was the recipient of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Distinguished Service award for fourteen years of service as neutral co-chair of the Committee on State and Local Government Collective Bargaining and Employment Law, from 1987 to 2001. In 2007, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court presented him with a “Special Recognition Award” for an “outstanding contribution to the founding and success of mediation in the Maine courts.”  He currently serves as a member of the University of Maine Foundation and the Phoenix Foundation, a non-profit entity.

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