CA Supreme Court Rules for Unions’ Picketing


The California Supreme Court has continued the Golden State’s tradtion of allowing union bosses to run rampant over businesses and workers. Bob Egelko,, has the story:

The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld California laws allowing labor unions to picket in a store’s parking lot or on private sidewalks, but cautioned that unions might still be barred from using large signs, amplified sound volumes or other tactics that unduly interfere with a business.

An appellate court in Sacramento had declared the laws unconstitutional in 2010 because they single out labor speech for special protection, allowing unions to assemble on private property outside a store to communicate to the public about a labor dispute. The state’s high court disagreed in a 6-1 ruling, saying such activity is a legal component of collective bargaining.

The laws are “justified by the state’s interest in promoting collective bargaining to resolve labor disputes … and the understanding that the area outside the entrance of the targeted business often is the most effective point of persuasion,” said Justice Joyce Kennard in the majority opinion.

The Constitution allows legal protections for specific types of speech as long as the content of that speech is not regulated, Kennard said. For example, she said, federal laws authorize both unions and employers to discuss labor-related topics in the workplace.

In a partial dissent, Justice Ming Chin said the law “raises serious constitutional questions” by allowing only labor pickets, and no other members of the public, to “engage in speech activities” on certain property.

While the ruling was a victory for unions, its scope may be limited by a separate opinion by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye that was endorsed by four of the seven justices. She said the law does not protect union conduct that tries to harm a business by using tactics that go beyond “persuasion of patrons to labor’s position.”

Miriam Vogel, a lawyer for the company, said Ralphs may appeal Thursday’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“These laws give unions labor-related speech rights that nobody else in California has,” she said.