Unite Here tried to organize workers at an Indiana casino to join the union. Part of the organizing strategy was to harass customers of the casino at their homes and businesses through a secondary boycott. A secondary boycott is a tactic used by unions to stop a neutral third party (casino customers) from doing business with the target of the union’s labor dispute (the casino). A fine line exists between free speech protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and an illegal secondary boycott. According to the judge, Unite Here went way over that line.
Here, the union frequently visited customers of the casino at their homes and businesses. For example, the union entered a restaurant owned by casino patrons and began questioning the restaurant’s customers about the casino habits of the owners. The union refused to leave until the owners threatened to call the police to intervene.
For another example, the union members distributed leaflets to neighbors within a block of one of the casino’s patrons. The leaflets described him and his wife as being regular customers of the casino. This customer alleged that his reputation in the neighborhood had been diminished, neighbors and family members questioned whether he had a gambling addition or problem, and one neighbor stopped doing business with him since the leafletting commenced.
According to the judge, there is no doubt that the union illegally tried to coerce casino patrons from going to the casino.
Matt Austin who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.