Employment Law Report

NLRB Invites Briefs to be Filed in Case Involving Nonemployee Union Access at Retail Locations

By Edwin S. Hopson

In a press release posted November 17, 2010, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) invited interested parties to file briefs in a case involving nonemployee access to retail locations operated by Roundy’s Inc., in the Milwaukee area.

According to the press release, the Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council union distributed handbills in the common areas (sidewalks and parking lots) in front of 26 Roundy’s stores asking consumers not to patronize the shops, contending that Roundy’s employed nonunion contractors that did not pay prevailing wages and benefits to build and renovate its stores. The picketing was apparently peaceful and there was no interference with access to or egress from the stores. While this was occurring, Roundy’s contacted the police in an effort to have the handbillers removed.

The NLRB ruled on November 12, 2010 that, at 23 of its store locations, Roundy’s possessed only a nonexclusive easement in the areas from which it attempted to expel the handbillers. Therefore, the NLRB found that Roundy’s unlawfully prohibited handbilling in front of those stores.

However, the NLRB severed allegations involving handbilling at two other store locations where it was undisputed that Roundy’s had sufficient property interest in the areas from which it attempted to expel handbillers. The NLRB will continue to consider these allegations and determine whether Roundy’s prohibition of handbilling by nonemployee union agents at these locations, while permitting nonunion solicitations and distribution to occur on the same property, was unlawful.  At the same time, the NLRB invited interested parties to file briefs regarding the question of:

” … what legal standard the Board should apply in determining whether an employer has violated the NLRA by denying nonemployee union agents access to its premises while permitting other individuals, groups, and organizations to use its premises for various activities.”

 Briefs must be filed with the NLRB on or before December 13, 2010.