Labor Unions/ Robust Speech

I am interested in the latitude that a Labor leader has under the guise of what I believe is called Robust Speech or Robust Debate. What bounds are placed on the union official’s speech? Can he make blatently libelous statements? Can he make threats of harm to the company or against the management of that company? Are there specific examples of what a court has permitted or prohibited a union official from saying?

There must have been an original case that generated the Labor Law. Does anyone know the particulars?

I seem to recall watching a video of the Eastern Airlines machinist strike. I don’t recall the labor leader’s name but have a hazy recollection of threats against Lorenzo and the airline. Can anyone fill in the blanks?


A union leader has exactly the same free speech rights as anyone else. I don’t know what threats you are referring to, but a union strike has the ability to cost the company a lot of money. Airlines are usually on the brink of failure, so the threat of a strike is scary, indeed.

I believe a union leader has additional speech rights that go beyond what a regular bargaining unit member has. A union official can basically tell his boss to “F off” without fear of reprisal due to his extra protected rights as a union official. I believe there is a term for this…Robust Speech. A regular bargaining unit member could probably not get away with this as it would be seen as insubordinate. I am wondering exactly how much latitude this affords the union official. I have googled “labor union robust speech” and get lots of sites that deal mostly with the ACLU. I am more interested in Labor/Management. I guess I need to refine my search skills. I need an LMR expert who can give me an example of what is allowed and how far is too far.

I’m pretty sure that inciting property damage, assault and battery upon management is considered “robust”, until some union underling idiot buys into it actually does it…of course the union can’t be touched, but the union underling certainly can face charges. This may change in the soon.

Here’s a .pdf file from the National Right to Work Committee addressing some of these issues. Violence also extends towards non-striking workers who don’t fall in line with the union.

I was excited until I saw the April 2003 date on that. Should my newly syndicated bargaining group not reach a contract consensus, I can very easily see myself being the target of violence when I cross the wicked, despicable picket line. Oh, and owning the [my union] website won’t help, I think.

There are sooooo many things about modern unions that are completely contrary to the spirit of freedom in the USA that I just don’t want to defile GQ talking about them.