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Picketing of a secondary employer that is confined to persuading customers to cease buying the product of the primary employer does not fall within the area of secondary consumer picketing which is prohibited under § 8(b)(4)(ii), 29 U.S.C.S. § 158(b)(4)(ii), of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 151 et seq.
Respondent union, while on strike, conducted a consumer boycott of the employers' products, pursuant to which it engaged in peaceful picketing and distributed handbills at markets selling such products. The signs and handbills asked the public not to purchase primary employers' products. The National Labor Relations Board held that § 8 (b)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act was intended by Congress to prohibit all consumer picketing at secondary establishments. The Court of Appeals set aside the Board's order on the ground that the statute was violated only if a substantial economic impact on the stores occurred or was likely to occur as a result of the union's conduct. Certiorari was granted.
By picketing at secondary establishments, did the respondent union violate § 8 (b)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act?
The Court disagreed with the test set forth by the court of appeals, concluding that there was nothing in the legislative history that showed any congressional concern with consumer picketing beyond the "isolated evil" of its use to cut off the business of a secondary employer as a means of forcing him to stop doing business with the primary employer. The Court concluded that § 158(b)(4) did not prohibit all consumer picketing and held that the picketing in the instant case, confined as it was to persuading customers to cease buying the product of the primary employer, did not fall within the area of secondary consumer picketing which Congress intended to prohibit under § 158(b)(4). Because the picketing did not fall within the area of prohibition, it did not "threaten, coerce, or restrain" the retailers.