The Legalization of Union Violence
I am going to stray from my normal diatribe against the Democratic Party in this article because I think it is vitally important that everyone understand how and why union thugs have reached the level that they currently occupy. What most people do not understand is that union bosses cannot be prosecuted for violence perpetrated in the furtherance of union goals and objectives including vandalism, assault, even murder.
The landmark United States Supreme Court case United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396 (1973) set the precedent for the egregious behavior we see from union officials to this day. The federal anti-Racketeering Act of 1934 or the Hobbs Act as it is commonly known states that anyone attempting to affect or obstruct commerce through violence or the threat of violence against any person or property “shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”
The Hobbs Act limits the violence to extortion and robbery whose provisions the Supreme Court held did not apply to union activities in the furtherance of their objectives because the government has granted unions the lawful right to strike to obtain higher wages, benefits, etc. The Court went on to say that because federal law empowers unions with the right to strike, the use of force or violence to obtain these objectives was not extortion and therefore not unlawful.
As long as the union can articulate that the violence is aimed at obtaining property for which the union can assert a “lawful claim,” for example, wage or benefit increases, the violence is deemed to be in furtherance of “legitimate” union objectives. By the Court’s skewed logic, such violence does not count as extortion. While the labor unions themselves cannot be held accountable for violence, the individual union members can be charged for violation under applicable state laws but as we have seen all too often this does not occur.
In fact, according to the Cato Institute, in several states, laws have been enacted that mirror the U.S. Supreme Court ruling thereby legalizing union violence and intimidation. According to a 1998 policy analysis by the Cato Institute: “The result has been an epidemic of union-related violence. The National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) has recorded 8,799 incidents of violence from news reports since [the Enmons ruling]. Those reports show only 258 convictions, suggesting a conviction rate of less than 3 percent.
Moreover, local law enforcement authorities often get many more reports of strike violence than journalists can possibly cover. Keep in mind that this data only covers the years up until 1998 and does not cover the more recent episodes of violence, voter intimidation and voter fraud that we have seen in various locations during the 2008 Obama campaign or in his current bid for re-election. As a result of this ruling two things have happened, first, you can no longer distinguish between racketeering influenced unions and those that are not, and secondly, nonviolent unions can no longer compete for membership against their violence prone brethren.
This is clearly a catastrophe waiting to happen, Now comes the part that I found to be especially disturbing. Since the ruling was handed down there have been numerous bills introduced in Congress that in essence would overturn the ruling including the Freedom from Union Violence Act (FUVA), which was first introduced as H.R. 1796 on June 8, 1995, and has been reintroduced in every Congress since. None of these bills have made it out of committee. It would seem that some members of Congress see no problem in allowing union violence to be perpetrated against the general citizenry of our nation as long as it serves their political purpose.
There is only one political party that derives benefit from forced unionization and that is your friends and mine in the Democratic Party. It is time to stand up for what is in our nation’s best interest and demand in no uncertain terms that union thuggery not be ignored or allowed to go unpunished. It is time for Congress to finally do the right thing and to enact those laws necessary to protect American citizens from union violence and intimidation.