Release Date: Sep 20, 2002Contact: 888-249-NEWS
Chamber Scores California Court Victory
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce won a major victory in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, yesterday, when the court struck down a state law that prohibited employers from using state funds to promote or deter union organizing.
"The court agreed that state funds paid to businesses for services or goods cannot have strings attached," said Stephen Bokat, Chamber general counsel and senior vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center (NCLC) – the public policy legal arm of the U.S. Chamber.
In Chamber of Commerce of the United States, et al. v. Lockyer, Attorney General of the State of California, et al., the Chamber's Litigation Center – and a host of other businesses and organizations – had filed suit seeking to overturn California Assembly Bill 1889. The Litigation Center argued the California state law was unconstitutional and preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, and the Medicare Act. The state law sought to restrict employers that received state funds, leased state property or worked on state contracts from speaking to their workers about the benefits and drawbacks of unionization.
In its decision, the court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, agreeing the state law was preempted under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), noting that the NLRA provides that "the expressing of any views, argument, or opinion, or the dissemination thereof shall not constitute or be evidence of an unfair labor practice if such expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit."
"This court victory ensures a free and open debate on the relative merits of unionization can continue between management and workers," said Bokat. "Other states that are considering similar legislation to prevent employers from engaging their workers in an open debate can expect the business community to remain united against that effort."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.