Iron Workers Local 395 Union attorneys argued that the incident should have been exempt from prosecution because of the flawed reasoning in the Supreme Court Enmons 1973 ruling preventing federal anti-extortion laws from applying to union violence. The U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial, 5-4 Enmons decision exempted threats, vandalism and violence perpetrated to secure “legitimate” union goals from Hobbs Act prosecutions.
Matthew Leen, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee, called on Congress to eliminate that exemption in the future.
“Unfortunately, there is a long history of union bosses considering intimidation and violence to be legitimate tools to be used against workers and employers who refuse to toe the union line,” Leen told the Washington Free Beacon. “This case demonstrates why it is past time to enact the Freedom of Union Violence Act, which eliminates unions’ exemptions from the Hobbs Anti-Extortion Act.”
The Iron Workers union endorsed Joe Biden for president in January, two days before Veach’s guilty plea, calling Biden “one of us” in a statement. It has since spent more than $1 million to bolster the Biden campaign and other Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Freedom from Union Violence Act closes a loophole in the federal Hobbs Anti-Extortion Act, eliminating the special judicially-created exemption in this law for union-related violence and extortion and holding union officials to the same legal standards as other Americans. This legislation would establish that the 1946 Hobbs Act applies to all Americans, including union officials seeking to advance so-called “legitimate union objectives.” Present law offers this unique exemption for union officials.