Even employers that aren’t involved in union disputes can be the targets of “secondary” union action.
The union practice known as “bannering” got the seal of approval from the National Labor Relations Board in a recent ruling in the case Sheet Metal Workers Int’l Ass’n, Local 15, 356 NLRB No. 162. Essentially, the ruling means that unions can set up displays (in this case, a large inflatable replica of a rat) and hand out leaflets on the grounds of an employer that does business with a company that’s involved in a union dispute.
Previously, some courts had ruled that such activity violated NLRB regulations designed to prevent picketing at a company that’s not involved in a dispute with a union. This latest ruling changes all that by:
- still barring “picketing” — or confrontational behavior by the union — but allowing union members to set up “informational” displays and hand out leaflets detailing the dispute with the third-party employer
- providing First Amendment protections to such activity, and
- forcing the employer to prove that such activity is confrontational and interfering with company operations.
In practice, here’s what it means. If you outsource or hire a contractor to do work on your site – maybe even a janitorial service — and that contractor is involved in a labor dispute, the union can set up a “non-confrontational” protest at your site.