On Thursday, December 27th, in a ruling reaffirming Union picketing rights, the court ruled in a 6-1 decision that upheld two California state laws that prevent courts from issuing injunctions against peaceful labor pickets on private property. In the opinion of the court, these laws are justified by the state’s interest in promoting collective bargaining to resolve labor disputes. The court believed that even though people gathering petition signatures and protesters CAN be removed from a walkway on private property outside a store, labor union may picket there, as long as it is peaceful.
This ruling stems from a dispute over Union member pickets at a Ralphs grocery store in Sacramento, California. The Union members, who were protesting the fact that the employees were not Unionized, were stationed at the entrance to the store entrance handing out leaflets. The policy at the store prevents demonstrators from coming within 20 feet of the entrance and asked the court to evict the picketers as trespassers. Although there is a split on the court as to how the lower courts should interpret the enforcement of these labor laws, they confirmed the constitutionality of the laws. Once again, the California courts have supported the rights of Union workers in spite of the efforts of anti-union employers to curtail their legal rights. This is a victory for peaceful leaflet picketing on private property at store entrances. Ralphs Grocery Company may appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Stay tuned as more information becomes available.