Statutory and Common Law Considerations in Defining the Tort Liability of Public Employee Unions to Private Citizens for Damages Inflicted by Illegal Strikes

This Note argues that in the absence of any clear indication that the legislature intended to bar such suits, courts should uphold private actions whenever plaintiffs can establish the elements of a common-law tort. Part I briefly outlines the various theories supporting the view that public sector collective bargaining statutes preempt private actions. The analysis is necessarily general, but Part I concludes that in most cases neither the language and structure of the applicable statute nor an analogy to federal labor law will resolve the preemption question. Part II, therefore, looks to the policies that animate no-strike provisions and argues that private actions generally further those policies. Finally, Part III advances nuisance and negligence as valid theories for imposing and defining union liability in tort to private plaintiffs injured by illegal strikes.