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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 1 that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters can be sued, after a lawsuit alleged that a 2017 drivers’ strike in Washington state damaged a concrete supplier’s product.

Glacier Northwest Inc., a division of CalPortland, employs truck drivers who are members of Teamsters Local No. 174. In 2017, workers went on strike after labor negotiations fell through.

Drivers walked off the job, with some who left for deliveries even returning with fully loaded trucks. Others stopped where they were and left their trucks on roadsides. Glacier said all the concrete mixed that day became useless.

Glacier sued the union for damages in state court, claiming that the union intentionally destroyed the company’s property.

The lawsuit was dismissed by the trial court, but the appellate court reversed that decision. Then, the Washington Supreme Court reinstated the trial court’s decision, which set it up for input from the Supreme Court.

Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett said: “Because the union took affirmative steps to endanger Glacier’s property rather than reasonable precautions to mitigate that risk, the law does not arguably protect its conduct.” Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was the only dissenting justice.

ABC applauded the decision.

“The precedent is clear that the National Labor Relations Act does not give unions a free pass to intentionally destroy an employer’s property during a labor dispute,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. The Washington Supreme Court decision “left employers without a remedy for the intentional destruction of their private property, causing businesses, workers and communities to suffer.”

The ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workforce also praised the ruling.

“No federal law protects such behavior, including the NLRA, and the Supreme Court has just affirmed that commonsense principle. Unions must be required to settle disputes within the confines of the law,” said CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen.


In June 2022, ABC joined the CDW and other employer organizations in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to request review of the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Glacier Northwest.

On Oct. 3, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear the Glacier case.

On Nov. 8, 2022, ABC joined the CDW and six other employer organizations in filing amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court to request that the court reverse the judgment of the Washington Supreme Court in the Glacier  case. The Washington Supreme Court’s decision stated that the National Labor Relations Board preempts state tort suits, allowing unions and their supporters to intentionally destroy an employer’s property while claiming to be engaged in protected concerted activity.