Protecting Employers Since 1985

“Shame on You” Strategies

Construction industry unions, particularly Operating Engineers Local 150, continue to use the strategy which we regularly refer to as “rats, banners and street theater”. They rely on the 2010 Eliason & Knuth NLRB case which gives unions pretty much a green light to engage in secondary boycotts as long as they are not picketing. That Obama Board decision relied primarily on free speech theories. The normal union strategy is to put up a large rat at the premises of a neutral employer that says something like “Shame on You”. In other words, there is disruption and demonstration in front of the neutral employer’s premises and the whole objective is to have that neutral stop doing business with the primary. For unions, it is a way around the secondary boycott provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. But, with the new pro-business Board now in place, it is likely that this strategy will have a pretty short life expectancy. We anticipate that once the new Board finds an appropriate case they will overturn Eliason & Knuth and find this type of activity to be an illegal secondary boycott. Below is a picture of a typical Eliason & Knuth scene.

Walter Liszka, head of our Chicago office, recently represented an employer in an unfair labor practice trial at the NLRB Region 13 office in Chicago. It was the exact scenario described above. We represented the neutral employer, a multi-location limestone quarry. The trial has ended. We are awaiting the ALJ’s decision. Either way it goes, it will certainly be appealed to the NLRB in Washington where a pro-business Board is waiting. The case is Operating Engineers Local 150 (Donegal Services, LLC) NLRB Case Nos. 13-CP-227526; 13-CC-227527; and 13-CC-231597. This may be the case to overrule Eliason & Knuth. Let’s hope so.

We will keep you posted.

Questions? Contact attorney Richard Wessels in our St. Charles office at (630) 377-1554 or by email at

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