Ohio’s Buckeye Institute Takes Stand Against Vandalism by Unions

The Columbus-based Buckeye Institute submitted a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of cement manufacturer Glacier Northwest’s argument that workers’ unions cannot claim vandalism their members commit during labor disputes is “protected activity.”

Last December, the Supreme Court of the state of Washington, in which Glacier is based, ruled that employers could not invoke state law to sue labor organizations over some acts of vandalism committed during strikes protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). 

Free-market institutions and business coalitions voiced outrage at the Washington high court’s decision. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, the National Federation of Independent Business, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Associated General Contractors of America, the National Retail Federation, and the Restaurant Law Center publicly backed Glacier’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiff and its allies contend that courts must not deprive businesses of the right to compensation for destruction of their property.

In joining these organizations this week, the Buckeye Institute urged the federal judiciary to recognize a distinction between merely striking and engaging in illicit activities that do not have NLRA protection. According to Glacier, a local of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters deliberately timed a strike to take place after the loading of concrete into trucks so the work stoppage would lead the concrete to harden and become useless. The company had to dump all of the concrete so its trucks would not be rendered useless as well. 

“By denying Glacier Northwest any legal recourse for the destruction of its property during a labor dispute, the Washington Supreme Court is encouraging the use of vandalism and sabotage as a labor tactic,” the institute’s senior litigator Jay R. Carson said in a statement. “The Buckeye Institute urges the high court to make it clear that criminal acts and property destruction are not protected under the National Labor Relations Act.”

The Washington Supreme Court argued that only an act of “violence” would entail the kind of property destruction for which NLRA protection would not apply. 

In its brief, Buckeye insists that the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause protects against the kind of vandalism with which Glacier Northwest is concerned.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].



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