Fourth Circuit Won't Reinstate Union Suit Against Gov. Haley
May 18, 2012
Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit filed against South Carolina Governor Haley and another state official, alleging that they had violated the National Labor Relations Act through a series of anti-union comments made in association with unionization efforts at the Charleston Boeing facility. In International Ass'n of Machinists v. Haley, the unions alleged that the Governor's statements intimidated organizing activities in South Carolina, thereby violating the NLRA.
In its unpublished opinion, the Fourth Circuit concluded that anti-union political speech by an elected official does not violate the NLRA. The court noted that the plaintiffs could not point to any imminent regulatory action on the part of the State that would have the effect of suppressing union activity. In other words, the Fourth Circuit interpreted Governor Haley's comments as political posturing that by itself would not have any effect on the ability of unions to organize or operate in South Carolina.
In response to the decision, the Governor's office released additional statements indicating her position that unions are neither needed nor wanted in South Carolina. Whether this rhetoric translates into tangible steps intended to make unionization more difficult in South Carolina remains to be seen.