In a decision issued today in Lippert Components, Inc. 371 NLRB No. 8 (2021), the National Labor Relations Board found that a union did not violate the National Labor Relations Act by displaying a 12-foot inflatable rat with red eyes, fangs, and claws (“Scabby the Rat”) and two large banners, one targeting a neutral employer (Lippert Components), near the public entrance to a trade show. The prior General Counsel had alleged that the display of these items was unlawfully coercive, arguing that the Board should overrule precedent. The Board had earlier issued a notice and invitation to file briefs on that question.
Three members of the Board joined in an opinion dismissing the complaint. In her separate concurrence, Chairman McFerran expressed her belief that the outcome of this case was required by Board precedent. In their separate concurrence, Members Kaplan and Ring agreed that the complaint must be dismissed here to avoid creating a possible conflict with the First Amendment, but expressed disagreement with some aspects of prior precedent. Member Emanuel, dissenting, would have found the banner and rat display to violate the Act.
Charge filed by Lippert Components, Inc. against the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local Union No. 150. Chairman McFerran and Members Kaplan, Emanuel, and Ring participated.
Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees, employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.