EDITORIAL: Disorganized Labor

Union violence and the demand for reform

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America’s criminal justice system is meant to treat everyone as equal before the law. Often it doesn’t. Perpetrators of violence, intimidation and extortion get a free pass if they’re union activists.

Look at what happened a few days before Christmas at a Philadelphia construction site. Skilled men with welding equipment came in the dark of night to sever support columns and set fire to the Quakers’ Chestnut Hill Friends meetinghouse. A detective told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “I absolutely think it is a union issue.” The sophisticated sabotage was meant to send a message that the congregation’s choice of a nonunion contractor to perform work on the meetinghouse was “unacceptable.”

These messages can hurt. Last year at a nonunion Goldtex construction site, an engineer was rushed by a gang of “protesters” who beat him until he lost consciousness. In a scene reminiscent of an episode of “The Sopranos,” a videotape left no doubt about what happened. Despite being charged with assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment, the union thugs responsible got only a slap on the wrist — a $200 fine and sentenced to perform 18 hours of community service. Their lawyer petitioned successfully to have their record expunged, as if the incident had never happened.

The National Right to Work Foundation counted 143 similar incidents of union brutality in the city of Brotherly Love over the past 25 years. That includes a murder attempt, threats at the point of a gun or knife, a janitor’s loss of an eye during a protest, and several tire slashings. A union boss expressed neither responsibility nor remorse: “One person’s harassment is another person’s free-speech exercise.”

Instead of protecting the innocent, the courts sometimes play the role of enabler. In 1973, the Supreme Court carved out a union exemption from a law making it a federal crime to use robbery or extortion to obstruct interstate commerce. The 5 to 4 ruling in United States vs. Enmons declared labor bosses protected as long as their coercion furthered “legitimate union objectives.”

In California, Illinois, Nevada and Pennsylvania, union lobbyists won an exemption from anti-stalking laws. Union organizers argue they should be enabled to get access to workers’ personal information, including home addresses and telephone numbers, to “convince” them to join the union. This leaves the workers powerless to resist intimidation. The power is used ruthlessly. In Rhode Island, the Service Employees International Union appeared at several workers’ homes and called their cellphones to “persuade” them to sign union-authorization cards. The union’s own contract campaign manual urges its members to “disobey laws which are used to enforce injustice against working people.”

There should be no union exemption for violence, stalking, intimidation and destruction of property. The Freedom from Union Violence Act was introduced in the last Congress by Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, and Rep. Paul Broun, Georgia Republican. It would eliminate the special treatment for thuggery in the service of union recruiting. States should also correct their laws to assure equal protection to those who prefer not be coerced into paying union dues.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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