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Dos and Don'ts on the Picket Lines

May 22, 2015 by Richard D. Furlong

Picketing, if done properly, can be one of the most important tools for construction workers organizing a campaign. However, there are several ways in which picketing can actually be detrimental to the union's efforts. By carefully observing the dos and don'ts of what is and is not allowed at construction-site picketing, you can assure you follow the rules and best help the union's efforts.  

When picketing a construction site with multiple companies, striking workers should avoid blocking their entrance and exit from the site.

When picketing a construction site with multiple companies, picketers should avoid blocking the entrances and exits that other companies use.

While it's impossible to know how long a strike will last or what the final bargaining agreement will look like, there are several things that can be predicted. And one thing is certain: If an unruly picketer acts in an illegal manner, it can have disastrous results.

What to do, and what not to do

Here are some dos and don'ts for union members to follow on the picket line:

  • Do follow the instructions of the designated union staff member in charge of the picket.
  • Do not bring any alcohol, drugs, or weapons to the picket line. Similarly, do not show up to the picket under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Do adhere to the guidelines for which gate you should picket. Be sure to only picket by the gate where the employer in dispute with the union and its employees and suppliers enter and exit.
  • Do not picket the neutral gate, which is where those who have no stake in the labor dispute can enter and exit without hindrance.
  • Do use a designated sign provided or approved by your union and continue to carry the sign at all times you are picketing.
  • Do not try to intimidate any line-crossers, including by hurling epithets or banging on a car.
  • Do avoid arguments, confrontations, and any type of physical contact with anyone either on or off the picket line.
  • Do not picket other parties, such as a secondary or neutral employer, at a multi-employer location.
  • Do be cooperative with any law enforcement agents and have them speak with your designated union representative.
  • Do not throw any objects, such as rocks or bottles, as this can incite violence, which will end up obscuring the main goal of a picket line.
  • Do use bells and whistles to draw more attention your cause.
  • Do voice your support of the picket by chanting and yelling, provided you refrain from including any threats, slurs, or other types of harassment.
  • Do not photograph, video, or otherwise record any individuals or vehicle licenses entering or leaving the premises.
  • Do document any threats, name-calling, or aggressive driving by non-strikers, including logging the time, date, names, and description of the event.

Who can help?

If you need assistance related to picketing, Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria's union administration attorneys are dedicated to helping advance the success and principles of unions. Based in Buffalo, New York, the firm's experienced union administration attorneys have been providing legal assistance in negotiating labor agreements and contracts since 1965. 

This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

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