On August 27, 2010, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that a union practice of displaying large stationary banners at a secondary employer's business is not coercive and therefore does not violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The NLRB decision affects three Arizona cases, in which union carpenters held 16-foot-long banners near two medical centers and a restaurant, to protest work being performed for the owners of the establishments by construction contractors that the union claimed paid substandard wages and benefits. Two of the banners declared "SHAME," while the third urged customers not to eat at the restaurant.
Under the NLRA, conduct that threatens, coerces or restrains a secondary employer not directly involved in a primary labor dispute is prohibited if the object of that conduct is to cause the secondary employer to cease doing business with the primary employer.
Under existing NLRB precedent, picketing that seeks a consumer boycott of a secondary employer is coercive and, therefore, unlawful. Stationary handbilling, where union representatives hand out written materials describing their dispute with the primary employer, with that same objection, is not. The issue the NLRB had to decide was whether stationary bannering was more like picketing or handbilling.
The NLRB majority, Chairman Liebman and Members Becker and Pearce (recent Obama appointees) found that the bannering was not coercive or in violation of the NLRA. Members Schaumber and Hayes (both Republican appointees) dissented from that decision. Member Schaumber's term has since expired, leaving one vacancy at the NLRB. (United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local Union No. 1506 and Eliason and Knuth of Arizona, Inc., United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of American, Local Union No. 1506 and Northwest Medical Center, and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local Union No. 1506 and RA Tempe Corporation, Case Nos. 28-CC-955, 28-CC-956 and 28-CC-957, decided August 27, 2010.)