U.S. Supreme Court dismisses Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall, avoiding a decision

In Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall, the Supreme Court was asked whether an employer’s agreement to remain neutral in the face of an organizing campaign violates Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”).  Under the LMRA, an employer cannot provide the union anything of “value.”  In this case, the neutrality agreement required the employer to remain neutral, provided limited access to company property for employees of the union, and provided contact information for the employees to be organized.  In exchange, the union had agreed to limit its ability to use publicity techniques such as picketing or boycotting and to put substantial money towards a ballot initiative that would have a positive impact on the employer.  The Plaintiff Mulhall and his supporters argued each prong of the neutrality agreement was something of “value” and thus violated federal law.

We recently reported that the decision in this case would be one of the most significant labor cases in recent decades.  But, on December 10, 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed the case stating review should not have been granted.  The dissenting opinion outlines three open questions on the issue:  1) Is the issue moot because the agreement between the employer and union has long since expired? 2) Did the individual Plaintiff have standing to bring his case? and 3) Is there a private right of action to enforce the LMRA?

Answers to these questions will not be coming anytime soon.  There are no other cases before the Court raising these issues.  

For questions on this case or other labor topics, contact your labor law counsel. 

By Caren Sencer | December 17, 2013

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