Lawsuit by Seattle company could change union rights
Glacier Northwest is a concrete company in Seattle. When its drivers decided to go on strike, they would load their trucks with cement, drive their vehicles to company headquarters, then walk off the job with concrete still mixing in the trucks.
The company argues that it was unable to deliver the cement because there were no drivers, and some of the cement had already hardened. Glacier wanted the union to pay for damages.
The case, Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union 174, will be argued Tuesday before the Supreme Court. Glacier is saying that the union committed “sabotage” in calling a strike at a time that would lead to property damage.
Glacier alleged that the union chose to strike after loading the cement into trucks because it would cost money to deal with undelivered cement. It sued the National Relations Labor Board (NLRB) for damages.
The union said Glacier’s lawsuit was in retaliation for the drivers’ strike.
The NLRB determines whether union conduct is protected by federal law.
Glacier argued the union’s actions to put materials at risk are not protected by the NLRA. Glacier argued that the company’s losses should be allowed in a separate case.
The company said that if the Supreme Court dismisses its lawsuit, the federal government will have ignored the value of the unusable concrete, according to the SCOTUS Blog.
Legal observers said, depending on the ruling, it could be more challenging for workers to organize unions and collectively bargain. It could also limit the union’s protection by the NLRB.