Why Aren’t Big Labor Thugs Prosecuted More Often?

Indiana tradesman Scott Kudingo charges that two local iron workers union officials and roughly 10 of their militant followers brutally assaulted him and several of his colleagues on January 7. His jaw, which was partially shattered and broken in two places, the welts on his back, and other injuries bear witness to his testimony. Yet so far, local police have made no arrests in connection to the reported attack.

A lawsuit filed on February 12 charges that two officers of AFL-CIO-affiliated Iron Workers Local 395 led a January 7 assault on tradesmen employed at a church-owned construction site in northwestern Indiana.

According to a draft version of the complaint obtained by the National Right to Work Committee, one day before the assault occurred, Thomas Williamson Sr., a business agent for Local 395, intruded on the Lake County site where the Plum Creek Christian Academy (PCCA) is being expanded.

Williamson ignored an admonition from plaintiff Richard Lindner, who was then operating a crane on the site, to leave because he was interfering with business operations and trespassing. Undeterred, Williamson proceeded to pressure Lindner, the president of the Cary, Ill.-based firm D5 Iron Works Inc. as well as an equipment operator, to convert his union-free project into a union-only one.

When Lindner refused, Williamson walked over to the school offices of the nearby Dyer Baptist Church, which owns and operates the academy. There, Williamson pressured Co-Pastor Lee Atkinson to terminate D5’s contract unless it kowtowed to Local 395 bigwigs.

Apparently, Williamson didn’t like what he heard from the clergyman. According to the draft indictment, at roughly 3 PM the following day, just as school was letting out, Williamson and his son Thomas Jr., who is Local 395’s sergeant at arms, along with approximately 10 union militants, stormed the PCCA construction site.

After getting out of their vehicles, the Local 395 assault team reportedly grabbed pieces of construction wood and began attacking Lindner and his colleagues Scott Kudingo and Joe Weil, along with other people at the job site.

The assault on Scott Kudingo was the most brutal of all. Union goons “threw him to the ground” and commenced “clubbing, kicking and punching” him “in the face, arms, back and body.” As a consequence of the vicious attack, Kudingo’s “jaw was shattered in part and broken in two other places.” And at least some of the union goons who kicked him in the face and back are believed to have been wearing “steel toe boots.”

All the while, the assailants screamed at Kudingo: “This is union work! This is 395’s work! This is 395’s territory! Don’t come back!”

Fortunately, Lindner was able to escape by scaling a construction fence. He promptly contacted authorities. Weil, on the other hand, did not get away. He was reportedly beaten with boards and “suffered injuries to his person, including but not limited to having a boot-shaped welt mark on his back.”

It’s now been more than seven weeks since the PCCA construction site incident, but no arrests have been made.

Moreover, no information is publicly available regarding the progress of the $3 million lawsuit filed last month against Local 395, the Williamsons, and their co-conspirators by the Center on National Labor Policy on behalf of Lindner, his company, and his colleagues.

Because D5 Iron Works is based in Illinois, and the incident occurred in Indiana, Local 395 goons and union officials who aided them could potentially be prosecuted under the federal Hobbs Act, which prohibits the use of extortionate violence and threats in interstate commerce. Unfortunately, 43 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court’s Enmons decision exempted threats, vandalism and violence perpetrated to secure “legitimate” union goals from Hobbs Act prosecutions.

The Enmons loophole often makes it extraordinarily difficult to prosecute union thugs. And weak-kneed prosecutors often use this loophole as an excuse not to bring forward union-violence cases even when Enmons arguably isn’t applicable.

But Congress has the power to close the Enmons loophole. That’s what S.62, introduced by U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), would do. This bill, otherwise known as the Freedom from Union Violence Act, would hold union officials who commit or foment extortionate violence to the same standard as anyone else who does the same.

The National Right to Work Committee is currently seeking more cosponsors and a roll-call floor vote for this important reform.

Union Allegedly Brutalized Nonunion Workers At Church …