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Union organizing exempted from stalking laws in four states

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

A new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlights a striking example of Big Labor’s strength at the local government level: the states of Pennsylvania, California, Illinois and Nevada have all exempted unions from the state’s own anti-stalking laws.

The report, titled Sabotage, Stalking & Stealth Exemptions: Special State Laws for Labor Unions, claimed: “union favoritism under state laws tend to occur in criminal statues and allow individuals who engage in truly objectionable behavior to avoid prosecution solely because they are participating in some form of labor activity.”

The main exception noted is stalking laws. Unions have long argued that they need to be able to access to workplaces and contact information of workers, including home addresses, to be able to convince them to joining. This is intended to balance against the fact that management has a captive audience when talking to its employees.

This has lead some states to exempt unions from laws meant to discourage people from following other people who don’t welcome the attention. The Pennsylvania anti-stalking law states it “shall not apply to conduct by a party to a labor dispute” while the Illinois law says “any controversy converning wages, hours, working conditions or benefits … the making or maintaining of collective bargaining agreements, and the terms to be included in those agreements.”

California has a similar exception for its trespass laws. The Chamber dryly noted in the study that the mere fact that these exemptions had to be written into the law shows how close some union tactics come to behavior that would be illegal in any other context.

The most striking example in the report is that Wisconsin’s anti-sabotage law, which makes it a felony to disrupt military activities, has an exception for labor organizing. That’s bizarre because organizing isn’t likely to be allowed on a military base, presumably the main place any sabotage law would apply. The report noted:

Presumably, the chances are slim that someone intent on disrupting military action could successfully mount an “I was just trying to improve our position in union contract negotiations” defense. Nonetheless, the fact that such an exemption even exists indicates the extreme lengths the union movement will go in order to shield their members from accountability for their actions – and the extent to which legislators in some states have accomo0date such efforts.

 

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