Large Inflatable Animals Allowed as Part of Union Protest at Resort

A Las Vegas resort contracted with a construction company to perform renovation work at the resort, and the construction company sent contracted work to an environmental company. Neither the resort, construction company, nor the environmental company were represented by the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), the union that chose the resort as its grounds for staging a protest. LIUNA displayed banners stating that the construction company supported immigrant labor abuse by hiring the environmental company. The Union also used 18-20 foot tall inflatable characters, including a rat, cockroach, pig, and cat as part of its protest.

The hotel filed an unfair labor practice charge, and the National Labor Relations Board’s counsel issued a complaint alleging that LIUNA violated the secondary boycott provision of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This provision prohibits a union from using restraint or coercion to force a neutral organization (here, the resort) to cease doing business with an employer (the environmental company) that has a labor dispute with a union. However, a union may use a stationary banner on the employer’s premises in a non-disruptive way to publicize a labor dispute.

The Board’s general counsel argued that the union’s conduct violated the NLRA because the union’s banners and inflatable animals interfered with access to the hotel’s property. The administrative law judge (ALJ) who heard this case disagreed with the general counsel stating that, “there is no evidence that anyone was actually blocked, impaired, or delayed in accessing the front entrance walkway because of the placement of the banner.” The ALJ also found that LIUNA had not trespassed because there were no signs identifying the area in question as private or restricted property. The ALJ dismissed the complaint finding that any blockage of the hotel during the three weeks of union activity was minimal and concluded that none of the union’s inflatable animals “directly disrupted, or threatened to disrupt, the hotel’s operations.”

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at maustin@ralaw.com.

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