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Ninth Circuit holds Preliminary Injunction was Properly Issued to Prevent Strike at Sea-Tac Airport
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed a district court's issuance of a preliminary strike injunction against carrier employees working at an aircraft service provider at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The injunction, which was brought under the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), was issued after evidence was presented showing that the employees decided to strike before appointing a representative and attempting to bargain with the employer as required. The employees' decision came after failed efforts to obtain reinstatement of a coworker who employees' alleged had been suspended for his involvement in addressing several workplace safety issues. Once the intention to strike was made public, the employer filed suit seeking an injunction to enjoin such action as unlawful. The district court issued a preliminary injunction, and the employee's appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit.
In concluding that the district court's issuance of a preliminary injunction was proper, the Ninth Circuit cited to the RLA's requirements that all carrier employees must select a representative and attempt to bargain to settle a dispute before striking, to avoid the consequence of a labor dispute impacting interstate commerce. The employees' decision to forego meeting their statutory obligations could have led to the shutdown of Sea-Tac during the strike period, an interruption that the RLA was enacted to prevent. For this reason, the court concluded, the preliminary injunction was properly issued. Aircraft Service Int'l Inc. v. Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters AFL CIO Local 117