Murphy Anderson Lawyers Win Free Speech Case before the NLRB

May 27, 2011

On May 26, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in a 3-1 decision that Sheet Metal Workers Local 15 did not violate the labor laws against coercive picketing when it set up an inflatable cartoon rat balloon on the public sidewalk near the Brandon Regional Medical Center in Brandon, Fla. The NLRB held that the balloon was lawful, peaceful expression. The cigar-smoking rat balloon was part of a protest against the hospital's use of a nonunion sheet
metal contractor.

Murphy Anderson's Michael T. Anderson and Arlus J. Stephens were counsel for the union, originally defending against the complaint before the NLRB in 2006 and representing the Union on review to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The Union won on appeal in 2007 on a related protest before a panel of three Republican-appointed judges. The D.C. Circuit remanded the case back to the NLRB, resulting in the NLRB's pro-free speech decision. The Board's decision, like the D.C. Circuit's, effectively grafts a whole new layer of legal protection onto peaceful union protest activity that the Board for decades has tried to outlaw as "picketing."