By Mark T. Kobata and Marty Denis
The National Labor Relations Board, however, has not always been friendly to employer’s interests. A California court recently confirmed, however, that some union organizing activity can be dealt with under state law, without the necessity of involving the NLRB. In Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the California Court of Appeal held that certain union activity could be enjoined by local courts without conflicting with the National Labor Relations Act.
The union in the Wal-Mart case had organized protesters to enter the store, where they acted to disrupt Wal-Mart’s business. Wal-Mart filed a lawsuit in California state court seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction. The trial court granted the injunction, and the union appealed.
The Court of Appeal for the 2nd District upheld the entry of the preliminary and permanent injunction, finding that the union had violated the state law against trespassing. The court further found that Wal-Mart’s claims were not preempted by the NLRA because the state had sufficient interest in regulating the activity.
Impact: Employers facing possible union organizing campaigns or other union activities have avenues for seeking relief other than the NLRB. An employer facing concerted activity by employees or a union should seek the advice of an attorney to determine whether the employer can protect its rights in the state court rather than before the NLRB.
Mark T. Kobata and Marty Denis are partners at the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago. Comment below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.