REGULATION OF COMMON SITUS PICKETING–NEUTRAL SITES
Picketing is a tool commonly used by labor unions to publicize the existence of a labor dispute with a particular employer. The Labor Management Relations Act, which imposes certain restrictions on union activity and prohibits unfair labor practices by both employers and unions, recognizes different types of picketing and places restrictions on certain types of picketing. One type of picketing that garners particular scrutiny is common situs picketing, which occurs where an employer’s work site that is targeted for union picketing is also the work site of another employer. Because common situs picketing will unavoidably effect employees and employers who are not involved in the labor dispute at issue, common situs pickets have been subject to special rules.
In the context of common situs picketing, an employer involved in a labor dispute is referred to as the primary employer; any other employers represented at the site by their employees or otherwise are known as secondary employers. The rules that apply to common situs picketing depend upon whether the site is owned or operated by the primary employer or is owned by a secondary employer and thus is considered a neutral site.
The picketing of a secondary employer may only be conducted when the subject of the dispute is actually present at the secondary employer’s site. An example of this restriction can be seen in the case of a trucker’s union strike. If the primary employer’s trucks are making deliveries to a customer company, which is considered a secondary employer, the trucker’s union may only strike when the trucking company’s trucks are actually at the secondary employer’s site. Once the trucks leave the site, the picketing must cease. In addition, the primary employer must be engaged in its normal business at the secondary employer’s site; thus, if the trucking company’s trucks were driven to a repair shop for maintenance, the trucking union could not picket at the repair shop.
Picketing at a neutral site must be limited to areas that are reasonably close to the subject of the dispute; in the trucking company example, that would be the loading dock at which the trucks were making deliveries. If the secondary employer does not allow the union members to enter the property, the picketers are required to conduct the picket as near the gate where the trucking company’s trucks entered as practicable. The trucking union would not be allowed to picket another gate, for example, where the employees of the neutral site entered the property.
Finally, picketing at a neutral site is required to clearly express the fact that the dispute is with the primary employer and must avoid even the suggestion that the dispute is with the secondary employer.
Construction sites are a type of common situs that has received special attention under picketing rules because they are typically populated with employees of several employers at one time. Regardless of the close interrelationships between the various crafts being performed at a construction site, the rule is that all construction employers are deemed neutral with regard to the labor disputes of the other employers. Accordingly, in order to conduct a picket at a construction site, a union must observe all the regular rules regarding neutral sites. In addition, a general contractor may establish separate points of entry onto the site for each separate employer on the site in order to insulate the other employers’ workers from a picket directed at one of the employers represented at the site.
Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
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