Labor Board Seeks to Block IBEW Hotel Picketing

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By Lawrence E. Dubé

May 23 — An NLRB regional director is asking a federal court in Massachusetts to stop International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers units in New England from picketing neutral hotels and motels in connection with a labor dispute involving telecommunications giant Verizon.

Regional Director John J. Walsh May 23 filed a petition under Section 10(l) of the National Labor Relations Act, asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts for a temporary restraining order against IBEW System Council T-6 and nine constituent locals. The National Labor Relations Board is seeking a halt to IBEW picketing of hotels and motels in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island that have provided lodging to Verizon employees and contractors during a strike against Verizon.

Walsh alleges that unlawful picketing and threats against neutrals have violated the secondary boycott provisions of the NLRA. A federal district court in New York May 12 issued a preliminary injunction against the Communications Workers of America based on similar allegations of CWA picketing at New York hotels.

Hotels Described as Neutral Targets of Union

According to the NLRB petition and a supporting memorandum, Verizon New England Inc. filed an unfair labor practice charge with the board May 11. Acting on behalf of the NLRB's general counsel, the regional director has already issued an administrative complaint alleging that the unions' conduct has violated Sections 8(b)(4)(i)(B) and 8(b)(4)(ii)(B) of the act.

The NLRB has scheduled an unfair labor practice hearing before an administrative law judge for June 22.

The board alleges in the Section 10(l) proceeding that the IBEW picketing has been loud, disruptive and intimidating. According to the agency's legal memorandum, the union “typically dispatches at least fifty picketers at each hotel and the number has even reached two hundred picketers at one location.”

Pickets have “yelled obscenities and chanted at hotel employees and guests,” according to the board, and the union has “deliberately organized the picketing in the early morning hours to ensure that it disrupts the sleeping of the hotel guests.” Picketing has been accompanied by “yelling, air horns, and the beating of drums,” the NLRB alleges.

NLRB Calls Picketing Secondary Pressure

The NLRB asserts that the union is pressuring five hotels and motels to stop providing lodging to Verizon strike replacements and company contractors. The hotels are not “common situs” locations that can be picketed in connection with the Verizon strike because struck work is not being performed in the facilities, the NLRB alleges.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued a temporary restraining order (90 DLR A-1, 5/10/16) and a preliminary injunction (93 DLR A-1, 5/13/16) on similar allegations against the CWA.

The IBEW defendants did not immediately file a response to the NLRB's Section 10(l) petition, which has been assigned to Judge Denise J. Casper.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lawrence E. Dubé in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at