There’s a fascinating story in today’s Inquirer by Jeremy Roebuck, detailing the Pennsylvania law that exempts union members in labor disputes from prosecution for stalking, harassment and terroristic threats. Hot dog! And here I thought fair pay and better working conditions were the only benefits of joining a union.
The exemption dates back to the New Deal 1930s, and Republican State Rep. Ron Miller says Pennsylvania “might be the only state to still have an exception like this.” At a hearing last year, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Frank Snyder defended the law — but worried the exemption could be used to shield employers. (No word on what William Green would think it.)
The Inquirer details some of the harassment Post Bros. executive Sarina Rose alleged in court testimony last fall.
During the day, she dodged taunts from union protesters outside the 12th and Wood Streets work site in Philadelphia, where her company was building apartments last year.
After hours, tradesmen snapped photos of her children, 8 and 11, at their bus stop in Abington. They trailed her at weekend sporting events. One union leader loudly cursed at her in front of a packed restaurant and mimicked shooting her.
The union’s lawyer in that case called Rose’s allegations “a complete misperception.” The judge dismissed the charges against the union leader, citing the labor harassment exemption.
Repealing the exemptions became a cause last year after the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report with a hilarious, scary cover about the exemptions from prosecution many labor union workers get. On cue, Grover G. Norquist wrote a column about it.
The Pennsylvania hearing was last August. A column in The Morning Call, by Paul Carpenter, quotes a member of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry: “The immunity allowed by law has been exploited by a few bad elements, which is unfair to the victims of these acts and a disservice to unions that advocate on behalf of their members in a fair, responsible and constructive way.”
Snyder, from the AFL-CIO, argued that it was businesses who are usually in the wrong. “In 89.9 percent of [NLB] cases, it was the employers who were found guilty, and 8.9 percent were employees,” he told the Allentown paper. “So no, it wasn’t [union activists] who were stepping over the line.”