California Local’s Secondary Boycott Violated Consent Decree, Says 9th Circuit

Int’l Ass’n of Bridge, Structural & Ornamental Iron Workers Local 433 in L.A violated the terms of a consent decree when it engaged in secondary boycott activity even when bosses claim they forgot the consent decree was in place according to the U.S. 9th Cir. Court of Appeals. The Court granted the Nat. Labor Relations Board’s request for contempt adjudication and fines against Local 433.

In Apr. and May 1989, NLRB ruled against Local 433, finding that it violated the Nat. Labor Relations Act several times for secondary picketing at three different job sites. NLRB said Local 433 had “a proclivity to violate the secondary boycott provisions of the Act” and issued an order against the union. A “consent contempt adjudication” or consent decree was issued against Local 433 in Nov. 1991 by the Court for violation of the two NLRB orders and the Aug. 1989 Court order. Under the consent decree, Local 433 was 1) prohibited from engaging in secondary boycotts, 2) required to maintain logs of picketers, and 3) ordered to obtain picketers’ written acknowledgment that they have been made aware of the consent decree. It also contained discovery provisions regarding alleged unfair labor practices and prospective noncompliance fines, both of which were intended to ensure future compliance.

NLRB petitioned that Local 433 was in further noncompliance with the consent decree because of secondary picketing in Feb. and Mar. 1998 at the Cal. Speedway, failure to maintain required picketing logs, and failure to provide evidence of unlawful picketing. Local 433 picketed and asserted it was lawful. The union alleged that it was unaware of the consent decree because the current bosses weren’t the ones in office when the consent decree was signed. Local 433 also said its lawyer simply forgot about the seven-year-old consent decree.

The Court said Local 433 “incorrectly views this case as if the NLRB has created a contempt provision to deal with past conduct.” The provision “was designed to prevent the union from engaging in the very sort of conduct alleged in this contempt petition.” The Court strongly rejected Local 433’s argument that the consent decree should be set aside because it has been in effect for seven years with no violations. [BNA 3/18/99]