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Boys Market injunction was too broad
May 16, 2005 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

When a union goes on strike to protest an employer action that is subject to arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement, the employer can get a federal court to enjoin the strike. That is, provided that the employer is willing to go ahead and arbitrate the dispute. That's a Boys Market injunction.

So, when the International Union of Elevator Constructors went on strike against Otis Elevator Co to protest the company's use of cranes for certain work, the employer sued for an injunction.

The trial court found that the dispute was subject to arbitration, and enjoined the strike.

Then the trial court went further, (1) ordering the parties to use the AAA expedited arbitration rules instead of the rules that were provided for in the collective agreement, and (2) ordering the employer not to discipline employees who engaged in strike activity in violation of the no-strike clause in the agreement.

Whoa, said the 1st Circuit. It was perfectly proper to enjoin the strike, but the trial court had no authority to do all that other stuff. Otis Elevator Co v. International Union of Elevator Constructors (1st Cir 05/11/2005).

My view: A no-brainer. The trial court had authority to enjoin the strike, but no authority to roam about and impose a bunch of its own ideas about how the union and the employer should do things. The whole notion behind the Boys Market injunction is that the court is requiring the parties to do what they agreed to do. There is no authority in the federal courts to go beyond that.


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