Connect with us


AFL-CIO: U.S. Supreme Court must uphold right to strike

UPDATED with statement from Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 10, 2023) — The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today on Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a Washington state case involving striking concrete truck drivers. Glacier Northwest is suing the union for damaging their business during a 2017 strike in a case that could invalidate a more than 60-year-old rule protecting unions from lawsuits when workers exercise their federally protected right to strike.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler released the following statement today on the case:

“The right to strike is on trial today at the U.S. Supreme Court. For nearly a century, federal law has protected workers’ right to strike in order to improve their wages, hours and working conditions. Glacier Northwest is actively seeking to undermine this fundamental right, arguing that it is entitled to sue the union in state court and seek monetary damages for undelivered concrete product as the result of truck drivers striking for fair wages and better working conditions. Glacier’s argument flies in the face of long-standing precedent and is a direct attack on the right to strike, a pillar of any democracy.

“The Washington Supreme Court correctly held that the National Labor Relations Board should determine whether the strike was protected, not the state courts. It is crucial to the livelihoods of America’s workers that the U.S. Supreme Court affirm the lower court’s decision.”

Striking Teamsters Local 174 members picket outside a Glacier/CalPortland facility in December 2021. (The Supreme Court case involves an earlier concrete strike in 2017.)

Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien released the following statement today on the case:

“Workers in America have the fundamental right to strike, and American workers have died on picket lines to protect it. The ability to withhold your labor is the one powerful tool throughout the history of unionization that has ensured workers can improve their working conditions.

“This right is now on trial at the Supreme Court. The anti-worker case before the Court is undemocratic and disregards long-standing legal precedent. It is about corporations using the legal system to try to deny workers their inherent power. Regardless of the outcome, Corporate America will fail in such pursuits because American workers will never be broken.

For both the American worker and our entire country, the Supreme Court must affirm the lower court’s ruling that the legality of the strike falls exclusively within the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board.

“The right of workers to strike must be preserved and protected.”

► From Vox — Supreme Court hears a case this week that endangers workers’ ability to strike — The Supreme Court hears a labor dispute on Tuesday involving striking truck drivers in Washington state who walked off the job to try to secure a better contract from their employer, a company that provides premixed concrete for construction projects. Yet, while Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters is a fairly unremarkable case, the stakes for unionized workers could be enormous. Glacier Northwest, the employer beyond this case, seeks to upend a more than 60-year-old rule protecting unions from lawsuits when workers exercise their federally protected right to strike.

The Teamsters allegedly timed a 2017 strike so that it would begin after some of Glacier Northwest’s mixing trucks were already filled with concrete, forcing the company’s non-union employees to race to dispose of this material before it hardened in the trucks. But the company was able to remove this wet concrete from the trucks before they were damaged, and there are a wealth of cases establishing that workers may strike even if doing so will cause some of their employer’s product to spoil.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!