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Chamber seeks reversal of California labor law
10
Jan '08
The National Chamber Litigation Center (NCLC) filed its brief in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking reversal of a decision in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America v. Brown, which upheld a California law restricting employers' rights to oppose unionization of their employees, and opens employers to possible triple damages if they do not comply. The high court will hear argument on the case in March.

“Federal labor law preempts state efforts to regulate speech that Congress determined should not be regulated,” said Robin Conrad, NCLC's executive vice president. “California's attempt to leverage public money to prohibit federally-protected activity is burdensome and inconsistent with federal law.”

California Assembly Bill 1889, signed into law in 2000, forbids employers from using state monies to assist, promote, or deter union organizing. The Chamber, joined by other associations and businesses, successfully sued the state on federal preemption grounds in 2002.

A three judge appeals court panel unanimously affirmed, reheard the case, and upheld its initial ruling. The appeals court, however, was overruled by the full Ninth Circuit in a 12-3 decision issued in September 2006. The Supreme Court agreed to review the decision in November 2007.

“For the hundreds of employers in California who receive revenue from the State, AB 1889 imposes a complete ban on union-related speech,” Conrad stated. “Moreover, the burdensome regulatory requirements imposed on employers as a result of AB 1889 are onerous, and could expose companies to treble damages and attorney's fees.”

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