Tokyo court rulings chip away at labor unions’ right to free speech

The Tokyo District Court handed down its verdict in the Fujibi case last February, with the Tokyo High Court upholding it in July. On both occasions, I couldn’t believe my ears. The courts ruled that labor union Zenrokyo Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo Rodo Kumiai (Tokyo Roso) had committed defamation and damaged the creditworthiness of Fujibi, a medium-size artwork printing company.

Articles 1.2 and 8 of Trade Union Law explicitly exempt labor unions from civil and criminal liability when conducting legitimate labor union activities. This has been broadly interpreted thus far to give unions extraordinary leeway to dish out harsh criticism of their employers, whereas normally such public criticism would constitute illegal (possibly criminal) defamation (meiyo kison) or obstruction of business (gyōmu bōgai). Consumer boycotts are illegal (possibly criminal), whereas strikes by workers are protected by the Constitution, even if they hurt the business.

So these courts ruled that Tokyo Roso’s actions were not legitimate union activities. What were the actions and what led to these verdicts?

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Japan College of Foreign Languages Local Conducts Recruitment Leafleting, Braves Illegal and Dangerous Management Harassment

JCFL Members braved the rain and management harassment on Thursday, January 22 to conduct a recruitment leafleting to in front of the JCFL Takadanobaba campus during their lunch break.

At 12:30, Case officer Gerome Rothman and three union members arrived at the front gate. They began leafleting instructors and staff.

Shortly after the union began, management deployed several non-union staffers to interfere with the leafleting. Management first told the union they would call the police. The union responded by insisting management stop interfering with our legitimate union activity.

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Tozen Vlog for May 18, 2014

Tozen Vlog for April 8, 2014

Tozen Vlog for April 2, 2014 – Redacted Due to Victory!

GABA Workers Union

GABA Dispute Update

The Tozen GABA Local leafleted the GABA Tokyo Learning Studio this morning in protest of their unfair discipline towards local president Tyler Christensen. The GABA Local also leafleted the Yokohama LS  on Saturday night. On each occassion the union leafleted to both clients and instructors there – to let them know about Gaba’s persecution of Tyler. The responses were really positive; people continue to be outraged by Gaba’s seemingly senseless refusal to negotiate. Afterwards, the Local held its monthly meeting at a nearby restaurant, which prospective members could also attend. Tozen’s Gaba local continues to grow.

GABA Workers Union