Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Labor Law
  • Date Filed: June 24, 2013
  • Case #: 12-99
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 667 F.3d 1211, 192 LRRM 2513 (11th Cir. 2012)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether an employer and union may violate Section 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186, by entering into an agreement under which the employer exercises 1) its freedom of speech by promising to remain neutral to union activity, 2) its property rights by granting union representatives limited access to the employer’s property and employees, and 3) its freedom of contract by obtaining the union’s promise to forego its rights to picket, boycott, or otherwise put pressure on the employer’s business.

Section 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186 – the federal labor anti-bribery statute – makes it criminal for an employer “to pay, lend, or deliver . . . any money or other thing of value” to a labor union that seeks to represent its employees, and prohibits the labor union from receiving the same.

Respondent, a trucking company, and Petitioner, a labor union, executed an agreement in 2004 detailing Respondent's promise to (1) give access to non-public work premises for union employees and union member organization; (2) provide personal and occupational information of employees to the union; and (3) maintain a neutral political stance regarding union issues. As consideration, Petitioner agreed to support a political initiative regarding casino gaming, to the tune of over $100,000. Petitioner also promised not to picket, boycott, strike, or undertake other economic activity against Respondent.

Respondent filed a complaint seeking an injunction against enforcement of the agreement due to violation of Section 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim because the "assistance" promised in the original agreement was not a "thing of value" according to Section 302. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit remanded the case for clarification of whether the "assistance" agreed upon by the parties was an "improper payment," which would indicate a violation of Section 302. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine these issues.

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