NLRA Preemption Doctrine

"The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) 'is a comprehensive code passed by Congress to regulate labor relations in activities affecting interstate and foreign commerce.' " (Com. Edison Co. v. Intern. Broth. Of Elec. Workers (N.D.Ill. 1997) 961 F.Supp. 1169, 1178.) "The NLRA declares the policy of the United States to eliminate or mitigate obstructions to the free flow of commerce caused by industrial strife, unrest, and unequal bargaining power, 'by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection.' (29 U.S.C. 151.)" (Southern California Edison Co. v. Public Utilities Com. (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th 1085, 1096-1097 45 Cal. Rptr. 3d 485.) "The act authorizes the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to adjudicate disputes concerning unfair labor practices and to prevent any person from engaging in an unfair labor practice affecting commerce. " (Id. at p. 1097.) The United States Supreme Court has articulated two types of preemption that are implicitly mandated by the NLRA in order to implement federal labor policy. (Chamber of Commerce of United States v. Brown (2008) 554 U.S. 60 (Brown).) "Garmon pre-emption" (San Diego Unions v. Garmon (1959) 359 U.S. 236 3 L. Ed. 2d 775, 79 S. Ct. 773) prevents states from interfering with the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) interpretation and enforcement of the NLRA by prohibiting state regulation of activities that the NLRA protects, prohibits, or arguably protects or prohibits. "Machinists pre-emption" (Machinists v. Wisconsin Emp. Rel. Comm'n (1976) 427 U.S. 132) prevents states and the NLRB from regulating "conduct that Congress intended 'be unregulated because left "to be controlled by the free play of economic forces."' (Id. at p. 140, quoting NLRB v. Nash-Finch Co. (1971) 404 U.S. 138, 144)." (Brown, supra, 554 U.S. at p. 64.) "Machinists pre-emption is based on the premise that '"Congress struck a balance of protection, prohibition, and laissez-faire in respect to union organization, collective bargaining, and labor disputes."' " (Brown, supra, 554 U.S. at p. 64 128 S.Ct. at p. 2412.) "Under this preemption principle, states cannot regulate the economic weapons that are part and parcel of the collective bargaining process. Resort to economic weapons is the right of the employer as well as the employee and the 'State may not prohibit the use of such weapons or add to an employer's federal legal obligations in collective bargaining any more than in the case of employees.' " (United Steelworkers v. St. Gabriel's Hosp. (D.Minn. 1994) 871 F.Supp. 335, 340.) "In devising the NLRA, Congress chose to regulate some aspects of labor activities and to leave others '"unrestricted by any governmental power to regulate."' By prohibiting specific economic weapons and consciously deciding not to regulate others, Congress struck a balance '"between the uncontrolled power of management and labor to further their respective interests."' States 'are without authority to attempt to introduce some standard of properly "balanced" bargaining power, or to define what economic sanctions might be permitted negotiating parties in an "ideal" or "balanced" state of collective bargaining.' " (United Steelworkers v. St. Gabriel's Hosp., supra, 871 F.Supp. at p. 340.)