Appendix A: Injunctions

The injunction is the employers’ favorite strike-breaking weapon. Its main purpose is to undermine support for the strike and demoralize the picketers, paving the way for a back-to-work movement. Experience has shown that once an injunction is issued and workers absorb its impact without weakening, it is of much less usefulness as a strike-breaking weapon.

An injunction cannot break a strong and effective strike, but it can considerably damage one which is weak and poorly organized. 

If an injunction is threatened or impending, contact the National Office immediately.

Technically, there is a Federal law which prohibits the issuance of injunctions in labor disputes. In practice, companies can often overcome this by showing that strikers are doing any one of a number of things, such as blocking traffic or engaging in violence. The usual injunction (or restraining order) is against “mass picketing” — that is, limiting the number of picketers at each plant gate. 

The legal process for issuing an injunction is a bit complicated. On the basis of evidence from the company lawyer, the court will set a hearing date for issuing an injunction, usually seven to ten days later; at that time, the union gets its day in court.

But the company’s lawyer might also ask the judge to issue a “temporary restraining order” in the meantime. It’s up to the judge, but if he agrees, the restraining order will prevent the union from doing certain things until the injunction hearing. Although an injunction is legally more powerful, a temporary restraining order can have the same effect in practice — especially if the injunction hearing is delayed.

To obtain an injunction, companies sometimes provoke incidents on the picket line through scabs and hired finks. Video tape or film is used to record these manufactured incidents (for use in court as evidence of the need for the injunction). In this situation, picketers must bear in mind that they have a Constitutional right to picket peacefully and to persuade would-be scabs not to go into the plant. 

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