Protest Boycotts and Federal Labor Laws: The Russian Trade Boycott

Maatman, Gerald L. Jr. | January 1, 1981

Part I of the Comment examines the Russian trade boycott, and compares the boycott to ILA protest activity over the past three decades. The survey of protest boycotts demonstrates the wide range of business interests disrupted by union conduct and the extent to which such activities may undermine American foreign policy. Part II analyzes whether the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) may assert jurisdiction over protest boycotts. The jurisdictional reach of the NLRA will be explored with emphasis upon a line of Supreme Court decisions involving foreign-flag vessels. Particular criticism will also focus upon the Fifth Circuit’s recent decision concerning the Board’s assertion of jurisdiction over the ILA’s boycott in Badovin v. International Longshoremen’s Association.4 Part III examines whether a protest boycott constitutes a secondary boycott proscribed by the NLRA’s. A theory construing section 8(b)(4) of the Act16 to prohibit protest boycotts will be presented. The theory is then compared to the analyses of the First Circuit in Allied International, Inc. v. International Longshoremen’s Association, and the NLRB in International Longshoremen’s Association, Local 799 (Allied International, Inc.),’8 two cases dealing with the application of section 8(b)(4) to the Russian trade boycott. Finally, Part IV discusses foreign policy considerations implicated by protest boycotts directed at foreign governments. Recognizing the constitutional power of the federal government to restrain protest boycotts, this Comment concludes that federal authority should exist to quell union activities that threaten foreign policy objectives and the conduct of international relations.