In a previous post, I discussed the scuttlebutt surrounding NLRB’s decision in Brandon Medical Center, which blessed the use of large inflatable rats to protest a secondary employer’s decision to hire a non-union contractor. Based upon the Board’s Brandon Medical Center, and earlier decisions in Eliason, Silverline Construction, and Forcine Concrete & Construction Co., Inc., I predicted that short of outright thuggery, it would be difficult to imagine what conduct the Board would deem coercive. A recent General Counsel advice memorandum shows that my prediction may be coming true.
In Abestos, Lead, & Hazardous Waste Laborer’s Local 78 (Midway Jewish Center), Local 78 picketed the Midway Jewish Center using an inflatable rat and hand-billing after the Center’s general contractor hired a merit shop asbestos abatement contractor. The Rat held a sign that encouraged the public to call the Center’s rabbi to chastise him for allowing a merit based firm on site. Expectantly, the General Counsel advised the Regional Director that following the Board’s decision in Brandon Medical Center that the union’s action did not violate Section 8(b)(4)(ii)(B). Never mind that the the picketing, including handing handbills to worshipers coming to the Center , continued during passover and on Saturday (which the Board’s memo reminds readers is the “Jewish Sabbath,” as not to be confused with other Saturday Sabbaths). A copy of the Midway Jewish Center case is available here. Midway Jewish Center.
Seriously, can the union really argue that it was engaged in expressive activity directed to the public? And, would it have really hurt Local 78 if they gave picketing a rest during Passover? Of course not, because the Local’s goal was not to influence the public, rather it was to harass those going to worship, who had little — if anything — to do with the selection of the merit shop asbestos abatement firm.