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Justices to Mull Labor Law Preemption of Property Damage Claims

Oct. 3, 2022, 1:47 PM

The US Supreme Court agreed to review whether federal labor law overrides common-law claims against unions for allegedly destroying employers’ property during labor disputes.

The justices on Monday granted ready-mix concrete supplier Glacier Northwest Inc.’s request to overturn a Washington Supreme Court ruling that threw out the company’s tort claims against an International Brotherhood of Teamsters affiliate. The company accused the union of coordinating with truck drivers to time their strike so mixed concrete would harden and go to waste.

The case deals with the boundaries of National Labor Relations Act preemption under the Supreme Court’s 1959 decision in San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, which blocks state and local regulation of activities that the NLRA protects or prohibits.

Glacier Northwest, which does business as CalPortland, said the Washington top court’s decision conflicts with rulings from federal appeals courts and other state high courts. A coalition of employer groups and conservative advocacy groups filed briefs supporting the company’s bid for Supreme Court review.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled that the strike arguably was protected by federal labor law, the Teamsters affiliate said in its brief. The National Labor Relations Board will decide whether the strike was actually protected, the union said.

The case is Glacier Northwest, Inc. v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local Union No. 174, U.S., No. 21-1449, cert. granted 10/3/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at riafolla@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Laura D. Francis at lfrancis@bloomberglaw.com