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California Supreme Court Decision Favors Union Activities

A recent California Supreme Court case yielded a favorable decision for unions that engage in lawful union disputes on an employer’s private property.  The Court reversed a lower Court of Appeals decision, in which the appellate court ruled that two California anti-injunction statutes regarding labor activities were unconstitutional.  The new decision seemingly signals the California Supreme Court’s reluctance to infringe on otherwise lawful union activities that occur on an employer’s private property during union disputes between employers and their employees. Engaging in Union Activities in California The ability to engage in picketing and other lawful union activities during labor disputes originates from the California state constitution.  California Constitution Article 1 §2(a) states that “every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right.”  In 1975, the California Legislature passed the Moscone Act.  The Moscone Act provides that certain labor activities are legal and cannot be enjoined, such as peaceful picketing and communicating information about any labor dispute where “any person may lawfully be.” Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 527.3(b). The Moscone Act prohibits unlawful conduct, including breach of the peace, disorderly conduct, the unlawful blocking of access or egress to premises, or other similar activity. In addition to the Moscone Act, California Labor Code Section 1138.1 prohibits a court from issuing an injunction during a labor dispute unless certain requirements are met. These include, among other things, testimony by witnesses establishing that unlawful acts have been threatened or will be committed unless legally restrained, substantial and irreparable injury to complainant’s property, or a finding that police cannot...
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