Lechmere, Inc. v. NLRB, 502 U.S. 527, 12 (1992)

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Opinion of the Court

Jean Country, which applies broadly to "all access cases," 291 N. L. R. B., at 14, misapprehends this critical point. Its principal inspiration derives not from Babcock, but from the following sentence in Hudgens: "[T]he locus of th[e] accommodation [between 7 rights and private property rights] may fall at differing points along the spectrum depending on the nature and strength of the respective 7 rights and private property rights asserted in any given context." 424 U. S., at 522. From this sentence the Board concluded that it was appropriate to approach every case by balancing 7 rights against property rights, with alternative means of access thrown in as nothing more than an "especially signifi-cant" consideration. As explained above, however, Hudgens did not purport to modify Babcock, much less to alter it fundamentally in the way Jean Country suggests. To say that our cases require accommodation between employees' and employers' rights is a true but incomplete statement, for the cases also go far in establishing the locus of that accommodation where nonemployee organizing is at issue. So long as nonemployee union organizers have reasonable access to employees outside an employer's property, the requisite accommodation has taken place. It is only where such access is infeasible that it becomes necessary and proper to take the accommodation inquiry to a second level, balancing the employees' and employers' rights as described in the Hudgens dictum. See Sears, 436 U. S., at 205; Central Hardware, 407 U. S., at 545. At least as applied to nonemployees, Jean Country impermissibly conflates these two stages of the inquiry—thereby significantly eroding Babcock's general rule that "an employer may validly post his property against nonemployee distribution of union literature," 351 U. S., at 112. We reaffirm that general rule today, and reject the Board's attempt to recast it as a multifactor balancing test.

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