South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Union May Not Distribute Materials on Private Property without Permission
Description Appeals court, reversing the National Labor Relations Board, held that a union had no right to go on to the property of a grocery store to distribute its material to the store’s customers as part of its union organizing effort. Store property is private property, so may not be used without permission.
Topic Labor Law
Key Words Handbills; Private Property; Union Organizing
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts WinCo operates a grocery store in Chico, California. It sits on a 10-acre parcel of land. Except for allowing Girl Scouts to sell cookies on the premises, WinCo has allowed no other solicitors. Union organizers came on the premises and passed out handbills purported to be from “Mothers Against WinCo” urging shoppers not to patronize the store. WinCo kicked the organizers off the premises. The union complained, and the NLRB held that WinCo violated the NLRA when it prohibited nonemployee union representatives from engaging in customer handbilling. WinCo petitioned for review of the NLRB order.
Decision

Petition granted. Under California law, union organizers had no right to engage in handbilling on the privately-owned parking lot of WinCo’s store. Labor organizing activities may be conducted on private property only to the extent that California permits other expressive activity to be conducted on private property. The union organizers could be found to be trespassers.

Citation Waremart Foods v. NLRB, --- F.3d --- (2004 WL 66769, D.C. Ct. App., 2004)

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