The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that union organizers do not have a right to enter private property to communicate with workers, in a case that has far-reaching implications for unionization efforts nationwide.
In a 6 to 3 ruling that broke down along ideological lines, the court invalidated a California regulation that permitted farm union organizers to venture onto farmland. The regulation dates from the mid-1970s and was promulgated by legendary agricultural union organizer César Chavez.
The rationale for the rule was that farm workers would otherwise be inaccessible to union organizers. But in the opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled that allowing access amounts to unconstitutional “invasions of property.”
“Government-authorized invasions of property—whether by plane, boat, cable, or beachcomber—are physical takings requiring just compensation,” he wrote.
The case applies only to California, but the ruling has implications for provisions of the federal National Labor Relations Act that allow organizers to go to court to gain access to employer property.