Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, 554 U.S. 60, 128 S. Ct. 2408 (2008)

Assembly Bill 1889, enacted in 2000, prohibited private employers that receive state funds – whether by reimbursement, grant, contract, use of state property or pursuant to a state program – from using such funds to “assist, promote, or deter union organizing.” Violators were to be liable to the state for the amount of funds used for the prohibited purposes plus a civil penalty equal to twice the amount of those funds. The Chamber of Commerce challenged the law on the ground that it was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act. The Ninth Circuit held the law was not preempted by the NLRA, but the United States Supreme Court reversed, holding by a vote of 7 to 2 (Breyer and Ginsburg, JJ., dissenting) that the state statute was preempted by federal labor law. Cf. Adkins v. Mireles, 526 F.3d 531 (9th Cir. 2008) (Labor Management Relations Act preempted employees’ claims against their union).