Secondary Boycotts: Unruly Union Behavior

The NLRB recently addressed a common practice among unions called secondary boycotting. A secondary boycott is a union tactic where the union pressures innocent parties to stop doing business with a targeted employer. The Culinary Union in Las Vegas has aggressively implemented secondary boycotts against non-union casinos, hotels, and restaurants. For example, the Union has contacted convention organizers trying to bring business to Las Vegas and threatened to disrupt the conventions using pickets and other unruly tactics.

The Union recently harassed a company looking to fill 1,200 rooms at Las Vegas’ non-union Station Casino. The convention would have provided an additional $300,000 in catering as well as additional spending on food, beverages, gambling and other services. However, because of the union’s harassment, the convention organizers took their convention elsewhere.

The Culinary Union claimed its goal was to persuade the company to allow workers a free choice on whether to unionize. Oddly, the Casino had already agreed to allow workers to vote on union representation via a secret ballot election. However, the union wanted to organize the casino via card check, a process where workers’ would “vote” by publicly signing their name on a piece of paper and allowing union officials to see exactly who did or did not support the union.

While secondary boycotts are lawful under certain circumstances and unlawful under others, they are always severely damaging to the targeted company.

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