He can't retain a lawyer until the union has exhausted all there channel's I/E: arbitration. I know this from experience not personal but from being a steward myself. His union will have there own lawyer's involved. It's a big no no to retain a lawyer now especially if he hasn't even gone to arbitration yet!!!
Is there a difference between "retain an attorney" and "talk to an attorney"?
Maybe some day I will understand the following scenario:
1) the company "messes" with an employee.
2) the employee files a grievance.
3) the employee, who has an inalienable right to defend himself, also talks to an attorney.
4) the company throws up their hands and, in essence, says, "we don't want to play anymore".
A reasonable person could easily assume the company knows it can make deals with the union, "here's your job back but no backpay" but, with outside, real life representation, the company backs off and indicates "we don't want to play anymore".
Last time I checked we still had freedom of speech and the right to defend ourselves but I'm sure that will change with the next contract