Freedom From Union Violence Act Would Close ‘Lethal Loophole’
On November 16, pro-Right to Work U.S. Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced H.R.4422, a common-sense legal reform also known as the Freedom from Union Violence Act.
This legislation would hold union officials who plan, commit, or foment extortionate violence against a firm’s employees or owners to the same standard as business rivals, gangsters, or anyone else who does the same.
If Mr. King’s bill is enacted, power-hungry, win-at-any-cost Big Labor barons will no longer be able, without fear of federal prosecution, to resort to violence as a union “bargaining” or “organizing” tool.
National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad commented that, while the dire need for legislation such as H.R.4422 has long been apparent, the importance of this reform was underscored yet again this past summer during a high-profile extortion trial of four Boston Teamster toughs.
‘The Union Doesn’t Have To Take No For an Answer’
Union henchmen John Fidler, Michael Ross, Robert Cafarelli, and Daniel Redmond were accused of threatening and assaulting the cast and crew of the Emmy Award-winning TV reality show Top Chef during a 2014 shoot in Milton, Mass., a southern suburb of Boston.
As Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Kaplan told jurors August 1, the entire cast and crew, as well as patrons of the restaurant where the shoot was occurring, faced a “gauntlet” of Teamster verbal and physical attacks.
Union goons threatened to assault and even kill crew members as a means of “persuading” the show’s producers to change their minds and sign a union contract.
“Union lawyers’ response to Ms. Kaplan was undoubtedly shocking for many Americans following the trial,” said Mr. Mourad.
“They said threats, harassment, vandalism, and physical coercion perpetrated to get an employer to sign a union contract are all permissible under federal law.
“As Kenneth Barron, the defense attorney for Michael Ross, bluntly told the jury: ‘The union doesn’t have to take no for an answer.’”
The federal Hobbs Act of 1946 normally prohibits actual or attempted extortion, i.e., the obtaining of things of value through threats or force, when it affects interstate or international commerce.
And the record of the Top Chef case is replete with evidence of apparent Hobbs violations.
Enmons Court Outrageously Exempted Most Big Labor Extortion From Hobbs Act
For example, when Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi arrived on the set, Mr. Fidler allegedly reached into her vehicle and threatened, “I’ll smash your pretty little face in.”
However, the prosecution was hamstrung by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ever-controversial 5-4 ruling in U.S. v. Enmons. In this 1973 decision, the narrow High Court majority held that threats and violence perpetrated to gain so-called “legitimate union objectives” may not be prosecuted under the Hobbs Act.
After receiving instructions from the judge based largely on the Enmons precedent, the jury in Boston unanimously voted last August 15 to acquit all four of the Teamster defendants.
“Far too often, union extortion in America goes unpunished,” said Mr. Mourad.
“Fortunately, Congress retains the power to closed the judicially-created Enmons loophole and hold union scofflaws accountable under the Hobbs Act. That’s the exact purpose of H.R.4422.
“If this measure becomes law, U.S. attorneys will be able to prosecute union bosses who orchestrate threats and violence, regardless of their exact purpose, under the Hobbs Act.”
Mr. Mourad vowed that, over the course of this year, National Right to Work would mobilize hundreds of thousands of members and other citizens to contact their politicians and express their support for H.R.4422.
Of course, Big Labor politicians led by union-label House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will fight tooth and nail to stop H.R.4422 from becoming law.
“This is an uphill battle,” Mr. Mourad said. “But Right to Work supporters can’t afford to pass up this fight and let union militants keep getting away with threats and violence. That’s why the Committee has launched a full-scale campaign to pass H.R.4422.”