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You are watching: Dangers of crossing a picket line

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Crossing or no crossing a picket line deserve to be a highly personal decision for an employee. Cross the line can result in harassment indigenous picketing co-workers and, in part cases, hazards of violence. Yet honoring the picket line have the right to leave employees emotion vulnerable about financial and job security.

The nationwide Labor connections Act (NLRA) shields nonunion, nonsupervisory employees’ decision to respect a picket line as protected concerted activity. Any kind of discipline because that an employee’s refuse to cross a picket line will certainly be deemed a violation that the NLRA and an unfair job practice, listed James Hays, an attorney with Sheppard Mullin in new York City.

An employee can, however, expect that that supervisory and management employees, who are not spanned by the NLRA, will certainly cross the picket line, and also it can take disciplinary activity against those that refuse to execute so, he added.

“It is very uncommon for supervisors to sign up with a strike—normally they occupational as replacement workers,” said Phillip Wilson, president and general counsel through the Labor relations Institute in damaged Arrow, Okla., a labor and also employee connections consulting firm.


Other employees can refuse to picket, stated Alex Stevens, one attorney with Haynes and Boone in Dallas.

If harassment that those crossing a picket line is violent or threatening—which may include threats of an individual harm, property damages or some type of economic harm—an employer have the right to seek an injunction to stop the harassing conduct. The employer likewise may file unfair labor practice charges through the national Labor relations Board (NLRB), Stevens noted.

But an unfair labor practice charge would be difficult to prove in every likelihood, stated Michael Lotito, an attorney with Littler and co-chair the its government affairs branch, the Workplace policy Institute.

“Yelling insults in ~ nonstrikers or replacements, return harassing, is not sufficiently outrageous to lose the act’s protection,” said Brian Hayes, one attorney through Ogletree Deakins in Washington, D.C., and also a former member of the NLRB. “Court intervention is rare.”

“Striking employees deserve to be subject to self-control if lock are uncovered to have engaged in picket line misconduct—that discipline could variety from a refusal to reinstate the worker complying with the strike come lesser self-control upon reinstatement,” Sheppard Mullin’s Hays said. “The striker’s action may rise to the level that criminal task and employers are finest advised come refer such activity to the local authorities.”

Hays added that the NLRB recognizes the picket heat language may end up being “salty.” The NLRB will call for a greater level of linguistic harassment during a strike 보다 an employer frequently would pardon in a normal workplace setting for the conduct to increase to a level warranting discipline.

“Harassment is really common ~ above picket lines and also the board provides a the majority of leeway for this kind of activity,” Wilson cautioned.

That said, the employee should carry out a safe and also secure entrance and also exit because that the nonpicketing employees to gain access to the plant, facility or office, Hays noted.

“In most cases, whereby an employee believes there can be a strike, employers now will rental an proficient strike security firm that will record unlawful conduct on video to use as evidence of unlawful acts,” noted Peter List, CEO the Kulture, a national labor-employment consultancy based in the Charleston, S.C., area.

Replacing Strikers

While strikers cannot be terminated, they can be permanently or temporary replaced.

Economic strikers may be permanently replaced. A strike may be economic in nature if it involves fighting for greater wages, better benefits or improved working conditions, list said.

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“Permanent replacement feels a entirety lot like acquiring fired,” Wilson said. “You space out that your project until the person who changed you leaves, which could be years later. At the point, you room called back from a preferential rehire list and also offered the job. If you room not maybe to take the project at the point—again, this might be plenty of years after the strike—then the job deserve to be offered to who else.”

If the union strikes in an answer to an unfair job practice, the employer may replace the striking employee temporarily, however must reinstate the strikers as soon as they unconditionally market to return to work, Stevens noted. 

“Not surprisingly, whether a win is an economic strike or an unfair labor exercise strike deserve to be a hotly questioned issue,” that said.

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