NLRB v. Fruit & Vegetable Packers, Local 760
377 U.S. 58 (1964)

Facts:

  • The Local 760 union picketed outside of 46 Safeway (“secondary employer”) stores in Seattle.
    • The stores were selling Washington state apples that were packed by non-union firms (the “primary employer”).
  • The union basically just told the public to not buy the apples, which were only one of numerous food products sold in the stores.
    • All in all, it was a peaceful strike.
  • A complaint was then filed, alleging that this conduct violated s 8(b)(4)(ii)(B) of the NLRA.
    • That section holds that it is an unfair labor practice for a union ‘to threaten, coerce, or restrain any person,’ with the object of ‘forcing or requiring any person to cease using, selling, handling, transporting, or otherwise dealing in the products of any other producer * * * or to cease doing business with any other person.

History:

  • The Board held that all consumer picketing in front of a secondary establishment is prohibited.
  • The Court of Appeals set aside the Board’s order and remanded.
    • The court rejected the Board’s construction and held that the statutory requirement of a showing that respondents’ conduct would ‘threaten, coerce, or restrain’ Safeway could only be satisfied by affirmative proof that a substantial economic impact on Safeway had occurred, or was likely to occur as a result of the conduct.

Issue:
Whether the respondent unions violated Section 8(b)(4)(ii)(B) when they limited their secondary picketing of retail stores to an appeal to the customers of the stores not to buy the products of certain firms against which one of the respondents was on strike.

Holding:
No.

Reasoning:

  • The court noted the difference between peaceful picketing, and picketing designed to threaten, coerce, or restrain.
    • Peaceful: The union’s appeal to the public is confined to its dispute with the primary employer, since the public is not asked to withhold its patronage from the secondary employer, but only to boycott the primary employer’s goods.
    • On the other hand, a union appeal to the public not to trade at all with the secondary employer goes beyond the goods of the primary employer, and seeks the public’s assistance in forcing the secondary employer to cooperate with the union in its primary dispute.
  • Here, the picketing only persuaded customers to not buy the struck product (apples), so it was closely confined to the primary dispute and did not create a separate dispute with the secondary employer.
    • Meaning the union wasn’t telling everyone to stop going to these stores altogether.. they could go, just don’t buy the apples.
  • Furthermore, even if the picketing was effective to reduce secondary employer’s sales of the primary employer’s product, leading or possibly leading to secondary employer dropping the item as a poor seller, it still isn’t enough to declare the secondary picketing an “unfair labor practice.”

Rule: Peaceful secondary picketing of retail stores directed solely at appealing to consumers to refrain from buying the primary employer’s product is not prohibited by § 8(b)(4).