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    U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review of Ralphs Case

    Calif. Supreme Court’s ruling in defense of UFCW stands

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review an appeal by Ralphs Grocery Co. challenging the California Supreme Court’s ruling to allow union members to assemble on private property outside the grocer’s Foods Co. location in Sacramento.

    Following its review of Ralphs Grocery v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which the grocer originally filed in 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the union on Dec. 27, 2012, on the grounds that two of the state’s labor laws that guarantee the right to picket -- The Moscone Act and the Calif. Labor Code Section 1138.1 -- were deemed constitutional.

    This ruling overturned a decision by the California Court of Appeals that reversed a trial court’s denial of injunction in July 2010.

    Ralphs petitioned to appeal the ruling on March 25, 2013, arguing that the laws were indeed unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and afforded preferential treatment to labor disputes versus disputes of other matters.

    “While we are glad to achieve this decisive legal victory, it is troubling to witness a long-time Union employer taking a hostile stance toward workers’ rights to express themselves freely,” said Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW 8-Golden State. “Educating shoppers and workers about their basic rights to a decent wage, good health care, dignity in retirement and respect on the job should not result in lawsuits and appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

    John Douglas, partner at San Francisco-based Foley and Lardner's Labor & Employment practice, told Progressive Grocer that although "there is a conflict here between the D.C. Circuit and the CA Supreme Court on this issue, the Court may have viewed the issue as too particularized to a specific area of the country and agency to deem worth taking up at this time."

    “The result is that the stalemate,” Douglas continued, “in which parties found guilty of unfair labor practices due to the challenged provision of the Moscone Act – will always be able to get relief by bringing an appeal in the D.C. Circuit – which has already found the provision of the Moscone Act at issue unconstitutional.”

    Ralphs Grocery Co. is the Los Angeles Division of the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co.
     

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