In a recent Supreme Court case, Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 174, a concrete company won a claim against its union for material costs caused by a strike. Prior to walking out, workers had left wet concrete in some mixing trucks. When it hardened, the concrete was ruined; the trucks themselves were preserved from damage only by swift company action. Fruitlessly, the union argued that this was the exercise of workers’ economic power in its ordinary form and did not constitute a tort justiciable in the court system—leave it to the National Labor Relations Board. For workers to identify and exploit a material vulnerability in the production process is merely to strike effectively. But to hold unions responsible for economic damages from strikes has been a dream of employers since the 1930s, and the court system is now ready to oblige. Although the ultimate decision did...

You do not currently have access to this content.