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On July 21, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision in Lippert Components Inc. 371 NLRB No. 8 (2021), finding that a union did not violate the National Labor Relations Act through its use of inflatables and banners intended to target employers.

“The NLRB decision reaffirming the status quo is disappointing to the construction industry because it allows unions to continue to engage in coercive tactics towards neutral parties, contrary to the intent of federal labor laws,” ABC said in a recent statement.  “We generally agreed with NLRB member Emanuel’s dissenting opinion. Scabby and other union balloon creatures are examples of threatening and/or coercive conduct during union pickets and boycotts and should constitute secondary activity.”

According to an NLRB news release, charges were filed by Lippert Components Inc. against the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local Union No. 150, after the IUOE displayed a 12-foot inflatable rat with red eyes, fangs and claws (“Scabby the Rat”) and two large banners, one targeting Lippert Components near the public entrance to a trade show.

Former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb alleged that the display of these items was unlawfully coercive, arguing that the Board should overrule precedent. However, the NLRB dismissed the complaint in a 3-1 decision, with Chair Lauren McFerran (D) and Republican members Marvin Kaplan and John Ring concurring and William Emanuel dissenting.

In November 2020, ABC filed an amicus brief in support of Lippert, urging the board to adopt a rule of law that the utilization of rat balloons and confrontational banners is a form of “picketing” that should be prohibited whenever such use threatens, coerces or restrains protected parties within the meaning of the NLRA. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Associated General Contractors and other business groups also filed briefs in support of Lippert.  

ABC will continue to provide updates on the Lippert decision in Newsline.