News Release

Supreme Court Set to “Eviscerate the Right to Strike”


MARJORIE COHN,, @marjoriecohn
Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The Supreme Court has just heard oral arguments [PDF] in Glacier Northwest, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local Union No. 174 and is set to hand down its ruling by June 2023. Marjorie Cohn recently wrote the piece “The Supreme Court Is About to Eviscerate the Right to Strike.”

She describes the strike that led to the anti-union lawsuit: “Eighty-five truck drivers walked off the job. Sixteen of them whose trucks had been loaded with cement but hadn’t made their deliveries returned the trucks to the employer, leaving the trucks running to prevent the concrete from hardening. Glacier was unable to deliver all of the concrete and had to dispose of it. The trucks, however, were not damaged.”

She continues, describing why the anti-union lawsuit now being considered by the Supreme Court was at first lawfully dismissed: “…an employer must obtain a ruling from the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] saying that the workers’ strike was not federally protected before it can file a lawsuit against the union in state court. If the NLRB decides the union’s action is ‘arguably’ protected by the NLRA [National Labor Relations Act], the state court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case.”

Cohn Concludes: “Given the political makeup of the court, it will likely rule that the drivers’ conduct was not protected by the NLRA and allow Glacier’s state court lawsuit to proceed. … The radical right-wing Supreme Court is about to deal a severe blow to the right to strike — the most potent weapon workers have to obtain justice.”