Ralphs Wins Picketing Appeal

LOS ANGELES — Attorneys for Ralphs Grocery Co., a division of Kroger Co., Cincinnati, said Friday they have secured a reversal of a lower court ruling involving the ability of union groups to picket on a company's property.

LOS ANGELES — Attorneys for Ralphs Grocery Co., a division of Kroger Co. [3], Cincinnati, said Friday they have secured a reversal of a lower court ruling involving the ability of union groups to picket on a company's property.

According to law firm Morrison & Foerster, a three-judge panel in California's Fifth Appellate District reversed an earlier ruling by a Fresno Superior Court that denied Ralphs' motion for a preliminary injunction against United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 8 and remanded the case for further proceedings.

The case stemmed from attempts by Ralphs beginning in early 2008 to restrict the time, place and manner of union activities outside its non-union FoodsCo warehouse store in Fresno — restrictions the union allegedly ignored.

The attorneys challenged the constitutionality of a 1975 law that deprived state courts of jurisdiction to issue injunctions against "peaceful picketing or patrolling involving any labor dispute" and of a section of the labor code that imposed severe restrictions on the rights of property owners to obtain injunctive relief. The Court of Appeals said both statutes are unconstitutional under the First Amendment because they favor one kind of speech — labor activities — over other kinds of speech.

The same law firm won a similar ruling last year in an identical case involving a FoodsCo store in Sacramento — a decision pending before the California Supreme Court.