Court Denies Union Appeal in Secondary Boycott Case

On December 19, 2011, the Sixth District Court of Appeal summarily denied a petition for review of PERB’s decision in City of San Jose (2010) PERB Decision No. 2141-M, issued on November 10, 2010.

Underlying Decision

In City of San Jose, the issue was whether the union violated the MMBA by picketing at private construction sites in a manner that caused work at those sites to shut down.   The Board recognized that the right to strike is well-established in the public sector but noted that concerted activities, such as strikes, can still constitute illegal pressure tactics.   In its decision, the Board concluded that:

Here, the picketing was directed at private employers with the object of inducing private employees to refuse to work, shutting down private construction sites.  Such conduct goes far beyond the non-disruptive picketing sanctioned in [prior Board cases], and was an unfair tactic designed to put undue pressure on the City to sign a contract with ABMEI, which it did five days after the construction site picketing commenced.

Central to the Board’s decision was its finding that the union’s picketing enmeshed private employers in a labor dispute between the union and city.  The Board held that disrupting the business of neutral third parties in this manner is “inconsistent with the public interest in promoting harmonious labor relations as well as the efficient delivery of public services.”

Comments

I was a bit surprised that the court of appeal summarily denied the appeal without issuing a decision.  I can only assume that the court felt that the Board’s decision was strong enough that no decision was necessary.  Anyway, this decision—assuming there is no review by the Supreme Court—is very helpful to public employers because it limits the union’s ability to use its economic weapons against third parties.

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