Some legal experts have said that a union setback in the case would discourage workers from striking by making the union potentially liable for losses that an employer incurs during a work stoppage.
“It will definitely lead to more expensive-to-resolve lawsuits against labor unions,” said Charlotte Garden, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who was an author of a brief in support of the union. Professor Garden did note, however, that the decision was less far-reaching in discouraging strike activity than it could have been.
Others have argued that the ruling was necessary to prevent workers from intentionally harming employer’s property, an act not protected by federal labor law, and that the right to strike is not jeopardized by such restrictions.
“Damages from intentional destruction of property are not inherent to the act of striking,” said Michael O’Neill of the Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative legal advocacy group that submitted a brief in the case. As a result, Mr. O’Neill said, the law does not shield workers or unions from liability for such damage.
The case, Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, No. 21-1449, involved unionized employees of a concrete mixing and pouring company who walked off the job during contract negotiations, leaving wet concrete in their trucks. The employer argued that it suffered substantial monetary losses because the abandoned concrete was unusable.