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Legislation Would Rescind Big Labor Thugs’ ‘License to Extort’
More than three-and-a-half years after they allegedly led a savage assault on tradesmen employed at a church-owned construction site in northwestern Indiana, two officers of AFL-CIO-affiliated Iron Workers Local 395 are finally expected, late this month, to be tried for violating the Hobbs Anti-Extortion Act.
During the assault, union goons are accused of having thrown to the ground Scott Kudingo, an employee of the Cary, Ill.-based firm D5 Iron Works, Inc., and then, “clubbing, kicking and punching” him, “in the face, arms, back and body.”
Mr. Kudingo’s jaw was “shattered and broken in two other places.”
And at least some of the union toughs who kicked him in the face and back are believed to have been wearing “steel toe boots.”
Witness After Witness ID’d Local 395 Chiefs as Participants in Assault
As journalist Connor Wolf explained in a February 2017 report for Inside Sources, based in part on witness statements taken by the local police right after the incident, there is ample evidence that top officers of Local 395, based in Portage, Ind., participated in the church attack.
Witness after witness ID’d Local 395 President Jeffrey Veach and Business Agent Thomas Williamson Sr., joined by roughly 10 henchmen, as having attacked D5 Iron Works tradesmen at the construction site in Dyer, Ind.
Moreover, photographs taken by the victims with their cell phones show at least two vehicles registered with Local 395 as the owner were parked at the scene during the attack.
Mr. Veach and Mr. Williamson (who retired from his post as a union business agent in 2016) were finally indicted for violating the Hobbs Act in August 2018, more than two-and-a-half years after the savage assault in Dyer.
They pleaded not guilty and were released on bond.
But rather than testify about what they were supposedly doing on the afternoon of January 7, 2016, other than leading an attack on union-free construction employees, they have repeatedly invoked their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves.
The Dyer Police Department investigated the assault complaints against Local 395 bosses and other union militants, but it has never taken any action against the alleged assailants.
Instead, Dyer law enforcement turned the case over to the U.S. Labor and Justice Departments.
Obama Federal Appointees Appeared to Make Little Progress on Investigation
As long as Obama Administration appointees continued to occupy key positions in these two agencies, the federal criminal probe of the extortionate violence used against D5 Iron Works employees and the company itself seemed to make little progress.
But late last summer, Mr. Veach and Mr. Williamson were at last indicted for conspiring “to obstruct, delay and affect commerce, and the movement of articles and commodities in commerce, by extortion.”
Prior to their indictment under the federal Hobbs Act, the only charges faced by Local 395 kingpins in connection with the church assault stemmed from a federal civil suit filed by D5 Iron Works, its owner, Mr. Kudingo, and other tradesmen.
According to the amended complaint filed by the plaintiffs in D5 Iron Works v. Iron Workers Local 395 in 2017, on January 6, 2016, one day before the assault, Mr. Williamson intruded on the site where the Plum Creek Christian Academy (PCCA) was being expanded.
Mr. Williamson ignored an admonition from D5 Iron Works President Richard Lindner, who was then operating a crane on the site, to leave because he was interfering with business operations and trespassing.
Undeterred, the union business agent went on to pressure Mr. Lindner to convert his union-free project into a union-only one.
Mr. Lindner refused.
At roughly 3 PM the following day, according to the civil complaint, a Local 395 assault team stormed the PCCA construction site.
As the assailants proceeded to shatter Mr. Kudingo’s jaw, they allegedly screamed at him: “This is union work! This is 395’s work! This is 395’s territory! Don’t come back!”
Veach, Williamson Lawyers Have Already Invoked Enmons to Get Their Clients Off the Hook
Mr. Lindner was able to escape by scaling a construction fence. He promptly contacted authorities.
Iron worker Joe Weil was less fortunate. He was repeatedly beaten with wooden boards and “suffered injuries to his person, including but not limited to having a boot-shaped welt mark on his back.” (Mr. Weil has since passed away.)
After the criminal assault at the PCCA site, D5 Iron Works had to cease all work on the school expansion.
Mr. Kudingo was hospitalized and had to have his jaw wired shut for roughly three months.
Today, Mr. Lindner, Mr. Kudingo, and their colleagues continue to live in fear of future Big Labor violence directed at themselves or their families.
Because D5 Iron Works and the PCCA site are located in two different states, Local 395 officials are seemingly prosecutable under the Hobbs Act, which prohibits the use of extortionate threats and violence in interstate commerce.
Unfortunately, nearly half a century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial, 5-4 U.S. v. Enmons decision exempted threats, vandalism and violence perpetrated to secure “legitimate” union goals from Hobbs Act prosecutions.
National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix commented:
“The legal loophole created by U.S. v. Enmons in 1973 often makes it extraordinarily difficult to prosecute union thugs.”
Not surprisingly, the criminal lawyers defending Jeffrey Veach and Thomas Williamson have already repeatedly invoked Enmons in their attempts to get their Big Labor clients off the hook.
In a joint motion filed this March, for example, the lawyers contended that the charges “should be dismissed,” because “the facts alleged” describe “‘legitimate union objectives,’ which were specifically exempted from the reach” of the Hobbs Act by Enmons.
This strategy hasn’t worked — yet. In June, U.S. District Judge Theresa Springmann rejected the defendants’ motion for dismissal. Her understanding of the law is that Enmons does not protect Mr. Veach and Mr. Williamson because their targets were a nonunion business owner and his employees.
“Thanks to Judge Springmann’s order, the Enmons defense is off the table for now,” explained Mr. Mix.
“But if Jeffrey Veach and Thomas Williamson are convicted, their attorneys can and surely will appeal the verdict on the grounds that the judge interpreted the Enmons precedent too narrowly!”
Common-Sense Reform Would Overturn Enmons, Hold Thugs Accountable
To prevent rogue union bosses from getting away with violence and extortion in the future, the Committee and its members are now pushing for Congress to overturn the Enmons decision.
Last month, Congressman Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) introduced the Freedom from Union Violence Act, a measure that would overturn Enmons and hold union bosses who orchestrate threats and violence accountable under the Hobbs Act.
“Because Enmons interpreted a statute, not the Constitution, Congress wields the power to reverse it legislatively,” explained Mr. Mix.
“And the Committee has already begun mobilizing members and supporters nationwide to contact their elected officials and build Capitol Hill support for the Freedom from Union Violence Act.”
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