Ralphs Grocery Co. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 8, 2012 Cal. LEXIS 11911 (Dec. 27, 2012)

Ralphs Grocery sought an injunction to prevent a labor union from picketing on the privately owned walkway in front of the only customer entrance to its store.  The trial court denied Ralphs’ request for an injunction, but the court of appeal reversed, holding that two provisions of California law, Code of Civil Procedure section 527.3 and Labor Code section 1138.1, which protect the right of workers to picket, violate the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment because they give speech regarding a labor dispute greater protection than speech involving other subjects.  The California Supreme Court held that while union picketing activities under these circumstances do not have state constitutional protection, they are protected under the two labor statutes at issue in the case and, therefore, the injunction was properly denied by the trial court.  The Court explained that state and federal statutory law may single out labor-related speech for particular protection or regulation, in the context of a statutory system of economic regulation of labor relations, without violating the federal Constitution.