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Revisit the "Rat"

The author is fairly certain that a vast number of the readers of this Article have either seen or unfortunately been involved in a case where a union has placed signage and the RAT at an employer's premise to force the employer to "cease doing business with or supplying another employer with raw materials (i.e., stone, sand, gravel, piping, etc.)" with which the union has a labor dispute. The Obama Labor Board (NLRB) has found this type of activity to be "Free Speech" protected by the First Amendment and exempt from the prohibitions of a "Secondary Boycott."

Under the National Labor Relations Act this type of activity, without the Free Speech Protection, would be a crystal clear violation of Section 8(b)(4) as a Secondary Boycott (i.e. involving an innocent employer who has no direct conflict with nor relationship with the involved Union) in a direct dispute between the Union and the Involved Employer who has a direct relationship with the Union. This Free Speech holding is now under direct attack in a case in which the author represented an Employer who was set upon by Local 150, Operating Engineers, due to a dispute Local 150 had with another employer.

Our firm Client/Employer supplied stone and gravel to the other employer for its construction projects. Local 150 set up the RAT and signage ["Shame On ABC Company for dealing with a Rat Employer" (XYZ Company)], at our client's main gate for a total of 12 Days (8:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M.) and caused our clients loss of business with other contractors. Our client eventually advised Local 150 that it would cease doing business with XYZ Company so it would be "out from under the gun". Miraculously, the signage and the RAT came down from our client's main gate within a half hour of the notification to Local 150 of the business cessation).

Due to an Unfair Labor Practice Charge filing with Region 13 of the NLRB (Chicago) by the Directly Involved Employer, and much to the surprise of the author, Region 13 has taken up this matter and a recent hearing was held in Chicago in which a representative of our client testified regarding those Local 150 activities. While the Administrative Law Judge probably will not find in Favor of XYZ Company's ULP Filing, there is a very strong probability that the Trump NLRB (3 Republicans and 2 Democrats) will overturn the Obama Board (3 Democrats and 2 Republicans) finding in Eliason, Knuth, 355 NLRB No. 159 (2010).

This, in fact, would be the "Correct Decision" since if the signage and the RAT are not "actual picketing and a secondary boycott" there can never be a situation where a neutral employer will be safe from Union Harassment!

Questions? Contact attorney Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at [email protected]

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