• The IAM and the South Carolina AFL-CIO filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, alleging that Govorner Nikki Haley is violating federal labor law by vowing to use state resources to defeat union organizing efforts. The unions allege that Governor Haley is violating constitutional and statutory rights to free speech, free association, and due process by opposing union organizing in the state. (Int’l Ass’n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. HaleyD.S.C., No. 2:11-cv00153-CWH, complaint filed 1/21/11).
  • In a memorandum to the National Labor Relation Board’s Regional offices, acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon announced that he will urge the Board to adopt a new approach for determining whether to defer to arbitral decisions and grievance settlements in unfair labor practice cases brought under the National Labor Relations Act’s prohibitions on employer interference and discrimination. Solomon’s memorandum concluded that the Board should no longer defer to an arbitral resolution unless the grievant’s statutory rights have “adequately been considered by the arbitrator.” The memorandum provides guidelines for processing cases presenting deferral issues, and directed that when an arbitration award issues, the Region should submit the case to the Division of Advice with a recommendation whether deferral to the award is appropriate.
  • The Association of Deputy District Attorneys’ motion for class certification was granted in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, certifying a class of deputy district attorneys who signed union cards in late 2007 and early 2008 that indicated they wanted to unionize. The complaint alleges that the deputy district attorneys suffered from retaliation after a county official gave management officials a list of all those attorneys who signed the cards, and that the retaliatory acts violated the class members’ First Amendment rights and their rights to information privacy and due process under the 14th Amendment. The defendants in the case include Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and top-ranking officials and management in the district attorney’s office. (One unnamed deputy district attorney at al. v. County of Los Angeles et al., No. 09-cv-7931.)
  • The California Court of Appeals held that two California statutes—the Moscone Act and Labor Code Section 1138.1—are unconstitutional under Article I, Section 2 of the California Constitution because the statues make “an impermissible distinction between labor picketing and other peaceful picketing.” In October 2008, UFCW Local 8 representatives set up an informational picket line in front of Foods Co., a grocery store operated by Ralphs Grocery Co., in Fresno, California. Local 8 picketed in front of the store, distributed leaflets, and attempted to inform shoppers that Foods Co. employees did not receive the benefits they could expect if they were covered by a union contract. Ralphs alleged that the union representatives failed to observe the company’s rules for being present on company property, but local police were unwilling to take action, so the company filed a state court action for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages. The Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s denial of the preliminary injunction, finding that the statutes in question create rights in labor disputes and limits on judicial authority that are not operative in controversies over free speech that do not involve labor disputes. (Ralphs Grocery Co. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 8, Cal. Ct. App., No. F0587816, 1/27/11).