Types of Union Picketing (Part 1)

Union picketing is a tricky little devil. The National Labor Relations Act allows employees – whether in a union or not – to “engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protections.” Picketing is a concerted activity. The ability to picket is not absolute, though. Picketing (which is not limited only to people carrying signs and walking up and down the sidewalk) can be stopped depending on the union’s objectives, the message conveyed, and the time and place of the activity. There are many other highly technical nuances of picketing. If your company is the target of picketing, legal counsel should be contacted immediately to determine what rights you may have against the concerted activity.

Recognitional Picketing: Recognitional picketing is a common tactic unions use against an employer they seek to organize. This type of picketing can only occur for 30 days unless the union files a petition for election. Once filed, the picketing can continue until the petition is processed, which usually means until there is an election, until the election results are final, or until the union withdraws the election petition.

There is one exception to the 30-days rule. Sometimes one union will picket an employer in protest that another labor union represents the employees of that place of employment. This type of union-on-union picketing is forbidden for 12 months after a valid union election. Short of this unique exception, the 30-days rule above applies.

Informational Picketing: While recognition picketing is common, informational picketing is more common. Informational picketing is simply when a sign states an employer does not employ union members or has a union contract. Since there is no demand that the employer recognizes the union, this picketing is not subject to the 30-days rule. Informational picketing, however, must still be truthful, appeal to the public, and not try to dissuade someone from doing business with the employer.

Area Standards Picketing: Area standards picketing is common in the construction world. These picketers want to convey that the non-union employer pays wages and has benefits lower than unionized companies in the same area. This type of picketing falls outside the National Labor Relations Act. Although unions act like area standards picketing is informational in nature, area standards picketing is generally used to coerce the employer into recognizing the union. As such, whether area standards picketing falls under the 30-days rule or not is highly fact specific depending on the conduct of the picketers and the messages they convey.

Make sure to check back next time when I discuss mass picketing, common situs picketing, and signal picketing.

Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio labor lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. Matt can be reached by email at
Matt.Austin@Austin-Legal.com or by phone at 614.285.5342.

HRACO Traditional Labor SIG Launches January 2013

As appearing in the Human Resources of Central Ohio (HRACO) monthly newsletter

Traditional Labor Special Intrest Group Launches in January 2013 

One of the benefits of HRACO membership is the ability to participate in Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Monthly HRACO meetings provide great programming that appeals broadly to its diverse membership, while SIGs are meetings focused on a single topic. HRACO currently has the following SIGs that meet regularly to discuss developments and nuances within their specified area:

  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Employee Relations
  • Training and Development
  • Staffing Management
  • Labor Relations (beginning January 2013)

Why Have a Labor Relations Special Interest Group?

I write an article every month for the HRACO newsletter that deals with significant developments from the National Labor Relations Board. These articles are generally limited to one topic and provide a high-level overview of changes in the law and my advice to human resource personnel in how to respond to those changes. Thankfully, these articles have been well received and have sparked great dialogue.

The format of my HRACO newsletter article does not allow for in-depth analysis or for human resource personnel to ask follow up questions. The Labor Relations SIG will bring life to the topic discussed in the preceding month’s article and through question and answer sessions, a deeper analysis and can be provided to members in attendance.

What Are Some Topics That Will be Covered In the Labor Relations SIG?

As you know, the National Labor Relations Board has been very active this past year. Many of the Board’s rulings have adversely affected non-union companies. Now, companies with and without unions need to pay attention to what is happening at the NLRB with equal intensity.

Some topics that will be covered include: Requiring employees to work during working hours; Micro bargaining units; Ambush elections; NLRB’s independent contractor test; Mandatory bargaining orders; Dues checkoffs; Board settlements; Personnel policies that violate the NLRA; Social Media; and other topics that have not yet occurred.

What are the Details of the Labor Relations Special Interest Group?

The meetings are for HRACO members only, will occur once per month, and will last for one hour. The date will likely be the third Tuesday of every month, with meetings beginning around 8:00am. The location has not been determined, yet. I am working with HRACO to identify suitable meeting venues, but until we know how many people are interested in attending this SIG, confirming meeting space is not practical.

So, if you have an interest in attending the Labor Relations SIG, please let us know by clicking here and sending an email that expresses your interest in the SIG. We will have a better understanding of the size of room to reserve based on the number of responses received. Of course, sending this email is not an RSVP to attend the first Labor Relations SIG, since the date, time, and location are not yet set.

Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio labor lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. Matt can be reached by email at
Matt.Austin@Austin-Legal.com or by phone at 614.285.5342.