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October 16, 2005

The Law on Secondary Strikes

I thought it would be worthwhile to point folks to some of the case law that bans free speech by unions talking to employees of anyone other than their own direct employer.

There was a Supreme Court case, DeBartolo v. Fla. Gulf Coast Trades Council, which found that unions could appeal for CONSUMER boycotts of companies other than their direct employer, but it made clear that such appeals to CONSUMERS was different from appeals to other WORKERS to strike against other employers.

As the DC Circuit said in Warshawsky v. NLRB in 1999 in a case involving handbilling that led to a walkout by such secondary employees:  

The Supreme Court has emphatically said that "the prohibition of inducement or encouragement of secondary pressure by § 8(b)(4)[i] carries no unconstitutional abridgment of free speech"...It follows that the First Amendment does not protect communications directed at--and only at--the neutral employees merely because the form of communications is handbilling and conversations.
You don't get clearer statements then this that the First Amendment does not apply to any appeal to labor solidarity, whether its posted on a picket sign or on a handbill.  Workers live in a world exempt from the First Amendment where all of their communication to one another can be tightly regulated by the government-- and the courts have zero constitutional problem with that.

Posted by Nathan at October 16, 2005 09:49 AM