CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT.
Stevens, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the court.
As a result of a labor dispute between respondent union and the H. J. High Construction Company (High), the union passed out handbills urging consumers not to trade with a group of employers who had no business relationship of any kind with High. The question presented is whether that handbilling is exempted from the prohibition against secondary
boycotts contained in § 8(b)(4)*fn1 of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, 29 U. S. C. § 158(b)(4), by what is known as the "publicity proviso" to that section.*fn2
High is a general building contractor retained by the H. J. Wilson Company (Wilson) to construct a department store in a shopping center in Tampa, Fla. Petitioner, the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation (DeBartolo), owns and operates the center. Most of the 85 tenants in the mall signed a standard lease with DeBartolo providing for a minimum rent (which increases whenever a large new department store opens for business) plus a percentage of gross sales, and requiring the tenant to pay a proportionate share of the costs of maintaining the mall's common areas, to pay dues to a merchants' association, and to take part in four joint advertising brochures. Wilson signed a slightly different land lease agreement, but it also promised to pay dues to the
merchants' association and to share in the costs of maintaining the common areas. Under the terms of Wilson's lease, neither DeBartolo nor any of the other tenants had any right to control the manner in which High discharged its contractual obligation to Wilson.
The union conducted its handbilling at all four entrances to the shopping center for about three weeks, while the new Wilson store was under construction. Without identifying High by name, the handbill stated that the contractors building Wilson's Department Store were paying substandard wages, and asked the readers not to patronize any of the stores in the mall until DeBartolo publicly promised that all construction at the mall would be done by contractors who pay their employees fair wages and fringe benefits.*fn3 The
handbilling was conducted in an orderly manner, and was not accompanied by any picketing or patrolling. DeBartolo advised the union that it would not oppose this handbilling if the union modified its message to make clear that the dispute did not involve DeBartolo or any of Wilson's cotenants, and if it limited its activities to the immediate vicinity of Wilson's. When the union persisted in distributing handbills to all patrons of the shopping center, DeBartolo filed a trespass action in the state court and an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. The Board's General Counsel issued a complaint.
The complaint recited the dispute between the union and High, and noted the absence of any labor dispute between the union and DeBartolo, Wilson, or any of the other tenants of the East Lake Mall. The complaint then alleged that in furtherance of its primary dispute with High, the union "has threatened, coerced or restrained, and is threatening, coercing or restraining, various tenant Employers who are engaged in business at East Lake Square Mall, and who lease space from DeBartolo in East Lake Square Mall, by handbilling the general public not to do business with the above-described tenant Employers . . . ." Complaint para. 8(a). The complaint alleged that the object of the handbilling "was and is, to force or require the aforesaid tenant Employers in East Lake Square Mall . . . to cease using, handling, ...