Will Congress End Union Thugs’ Free Ride?

International longshore union President Bob McEllrath has publicly encouraged lawlessness by his militant followers in Washington State. For example, last September 7 he participated in an illegal blockade of grain terminal deliveries. Credit: Dawn Des Brisay-Longshore Shipping News

Freedom From Union Violence Act Would Close ‘Lethal Loophole’

(source: National Right to Work Committee April 2012 Newsletter)

This month, pro-Right to Work U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) will introduce an important legal reform known as the Freedom from Union Violence Act.

This bill 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.

Legislation Would Bar Use Of Violence as a Union ‘Organizing Tool’

Parallel legislation was introduced in the U.S. House earlier this year as H.R.4074 by Congressman Paul Broun (R-Ga.). Like Mr. Lee, Mr. Broun is one of the most outspoken opponents of compulsory unionism in Congress today.

If H.R.4074 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 “organizing” or “bargaining” tool.

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, vowed over the course of the next few months to mobilize hundreds of thousands of members and other citizens to contact their federal elected officials and express their strong support for this legislation.

It’s ‘Extraordinarily Difficult’ to Prosecute Union Lawbreakers

Mr. Mix explained:

“In today’s America, prosecutions of Big Labor arson, assaults, death threats, and other serious crimes are extraordinarily difficult.

“Such prosecutions are frequently hindered because of a loophole in federal law that exempts extortionate violence from prosecution when it is committed pursuant to so-called ‘legitimate union objectives.’

“And one objective that federal law clearly deems to be ‘legitimate’ is to expand the number of workers who are forced to accept union representation and pay union dues as a condition of employment.

“Time and again, federal prosecutors have amassed extensive evidence that Big Labor bosses have orchestrated, authorized, and/or ratified violence, vandalism and threats for union organizing purposes.

“Nevertheless, because of the pro-union violence loophole in the federal Hobbs Act, extortion prosecutions of the implicated union officials ultimately fail — or never even get off the ground.”

In its controversial 1973 Enmons decision, Mr. Mix explained, a divided U.S. Supreme Court exempted threats, vandalism and violence perpetrated to secure “legitimate” union goals.

What this means in practice can be illustrated by a violent clash occurring late last summer in Longview, Wash., a Columbia River port town, and its aftermath.

Criminal Actions Appear to Be Paying Off For Longshore Union Bosses and Militants

At 4:30 AM on September 8, 2011, hundreds of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU/AFL-CIO) militants stormed a new grain terminal at the Port of Longview.

Big Labor thugs broke down the gates, overwhelmed six security guards, and then converged on the terminal of EGT, a joint venture of U.S., Japanese, and South Korean companies that had been targeted by ILWU chiefs.

A week later, security guard Charlie Cadwell testified before U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton that every ILWU “protester” he saw that morning was carrying a baseball bat, lead pipe, garden tool, or other weapon.

As the AP reported, Mr. Cadwell told the judge he was first pulled out of his car by one Big Labor zealot, then another swung a metal pipe at him.

“I told him,” Mr. Cadwell continued, “you have 50 cameras on you, and law enforcement is on its way. He said ‘(Expletive) you. We’re not here for you; we’re here for the train.'”

Meanwhile, yet another union militant drove off with his car and eventually ran it into a ditch. Mr. Cadwell said “about 40 to 50 people were throwing rocks at him, and that he was hit between his eyes and in the knee,” according to the AP account.

‘This Was an Organized, Large-Scale Criminal Event’

With neither security guards nor police able to stop them, union toughs went on a rampage.

They cut the brake lines of many rail cars in the EGT terminal and dumped the grain contained in 72 of them. They also smashed windows and cut the air hoses to a grain train.

Altogether, roughly $150,000 in damage was done, according to EGT’s estimate. Yet police were unable to make a single arrest at the scene.

“This was an organized, large-scale criminal event,” Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson told Longview’s Daily News September 9. “We’re talking about sabotage. We’re talking about riotous behavior.”

Moreover, top union officials including ILWU International President Bob McEllrath publicly encouraged such activity in advance by participating, for example, in an illegal blockade of EGT grain terminal deliveries on September 7, 2011.

“There is substantial evidence already on the public record showing that Bob McEllrath and other ILWU bosses both incited and organized last year’s Longview mayhem,” said Mr. Mix.

“Yet, largely because of the Hobbs Act loophole, it is highly unlikely any members of the ILWU hierarchy will be prosecuted in connection with the rioting and sabotage.

“Indeed, this winter EGT executives effectively rewarded ILWU thuggery by backing away from their previous decision to man the Port of Longview terminal with non-ILWU labor. On February 16, the company meekly announced it would designate ILWU kingpins as employees’ monopoly-bargaining agents.

“What is happening in Washington State is a black mark on the American justice system — and it makes your blood boil.”

President Obama, Harry Reid Expected to Oppose Reform ‘Tooth and Nail’

Mr. Mix continued:

“Fortunately, since the Supreme Court’s Enmons decision interpreted a federal statute, not the U.S. Constitution, Congress retains the power to override it legislatively.

“That’s what the Freedom from Union Violence Act would do. By closing the ‘lethal loophole’ punched into the Hobbs Act by Enmons, H.R.4074 would make it far less difficult to hold scofflaw union chieftains accountable for their misdeeds.”

Passage of this reform won’t be easy, Mr. Mix acknowledged.

“Union-label politicians, led by President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-Nev.], will almost certainly oppose H.R.4074, tooth and nail.

“But Right to Work supporters can’t afford to pass up this fight and let union militants continue getting away with threats, sabotage and assaults.

“That’s why the Committee, despite the uphill battle we face, has launched a full-scale campaign to pass the Freedom from Union Violence Act.”

Big Labor Politicians Know Public Opinion Is Against Them on Union-Violence Issue

“This year, the Committee plans to contact millions and millions of Americans by e-mail, phone and mail and ask them to sign petitions in support of H.R.4074 and its Senate counterpart to their elected officials,” Mr. Mix added.

“If funds are available, we also hope to run hard-hitting, targeted radio and newspaper ads to overcome Big Labor’s lobbying machine.”

“Poll after poll has shown citizens nationwide overwhelmingly favor closing the Enmons loophole. That’s why I believe this battle can be won. But to prevail, Right to Work members will have to wage an extended and furious fight.”



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