In Verizon of Delaware, Inc. v. Communications Workers of America, Local Nos. 13100 and 13101, et al., C.A. No. 6766-CS (Order) (Del. Ch. Aug. 10, 2011), available here, the Court of Chancery addressed the problems that arose with picketing during the recent Verizon employee strike.

This post was prepared by a former associate of Eckert Seamans.

Earlier this month, thousands of Verizon of Delaware union employees went on strike after a month of unsuccessful negotiations concerning employee contract terms. The workers picketed outside the company’s offices — if you walked past any Verizon location in Delaware, a sea of red shirts crowded the entrances and exits of the buildings. After three days of picketing where, in certain locations, the protestors were causing fear among non-striking workers; damaging Verizon property; and engaging in physical violence, Verizon filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the strikers.

Within hours of receiving the motion for a preliminary injunction, the Court of Chancery heard argument from counsel for both parties on the issues presented in the motion, and granted Verizon’s proposed order imposing serious restrictions on the union workers’ picketing and striking activities. The five-page order further required Verizon to post a $10,000 bond to secure future payment for any person that may have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.

Although not discussed in the Order, the prerequisites that must be satisfied before a court will issue a preliminary injunction, are: (i) a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (ii) that the movant will suffer irreparable injury if an injunction does not issue; and (iii) that the balance of the equities favors the issuance of an injunction. In this case, the protestors’ violent and dangerous conduct presented a sufficient threat of imminent irreparable harm to support the issuance of a preliminary injunction. It may also have helped Verizon’s argument that similar injunctions against the strikers were granted in other states.