Sources: Associated Builders & Contractors, Washington, D.C.; National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
By Don Marsh
The opinion on bannering as conducted by United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 1506 against three neutral, Arizona construction owners (see companion item) was issued by the Labor Board's three Democrats: Chairman Wilma Liebman, a 13-year agency veteran, plus new Members Craig Becker and Mark Pearce, who joined the board in April as Obama administration recess appointees. Dissenting Members were Republicans Peter Schaumber, whose term expired August 31Ûfour days after the bannering opinion was issuedÛand Brian Hayes, who joined in July.
Banners, held aloft by union agents, misleadingly accuse the neutral employer of having a labor dispute with the union, Members Schaumber and Hayes write in their dissent. They likewise contend that their colleaguesÌ opinion sets a new standard for determing unlawful actions against secondary employers: [It] substantially increases the leverage of unions that may be tempted to exploit the threat of coercive secondary activity, and creates new incentives to utilize such tactics. Neutral employers will be reluctant to do business with a primary employer prone to union bannering, they add.
Our dissent is compelled by a serious concern that [the majority's] standard will assuredly foster precisely the evil of secondary boycott activity and expanded industrial conflict that Congress intended to restrict [in the National Labor Relations Act], Schaumber and Hayes conclude. We will not be alone in finding this decision troubling and ill-advised.
The NLRB failed to apply longstanding laws against secondary union activity that are supposed to prohibit confrontational conduct aimed at neutral parties, says 2010 ABC National Chairman Jim Elmer (James W. Elmer Construction Co., Spokane, Wash.). The board's action ignores the reality of the construction workplace and will no doubt embolden and encourage more unions to incorporate this practice into aggressive and irresponsible Îcorporate campaigns.Ì
Bannering is a desperate attempt to regain market share by unfairly targeting nonunion construction companies, regardless of the wishes of their employees, and seeking to drive these firms out of certain markets by coercing their neutral customers."