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Thread: I've been waiting years to see this...

  1. #1
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Oh, please...
    From a column by Robert Novak, dated 1/16/05:


    More than a dozen conservative groups have joined to launch a campaign to end organized labor's 70-year-old exemption from anti-violence prohibitions under federal racketeering laws.

    The coalition is getting behind a new bill introduced by Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina. The measure would overrule a landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision confirming that union violence cannot be prosecuted under the racketeering statute if it is done in pursuit of legitimate union objectives.

    In promoting Wilson's bill, conservatives are aiming at individual union members who complain about being intimidated by the union leadership. Conservatives want to protect the 40 percent of union members who voted for George W. Bush from union leaders, who send 96 percent of their political contributions to Democrats.

    Over the years, murders and worse have been excused or overlooked when they occur under the guise of union activity; it's about time this was addressed, don't you think?
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Oh, please...
    This is an immense wad of reading, but you can scan it and get an idea.

    It really is as bad as it sounds, and, owing to the power of the union lobby, is not much discussed, either.

    This piece exceeded the maximum number of characters, so it is truncated by about 1/3, but I promise you won't notice.

    5211 Port Royal Road Suite 510 Springfield, Virginia 22151


    By David Kendrick, Program Director
    Copyright 1996, The National Institute for Labor Relations Research

    Sixty years after the rise of organized labor's political machine during the New Deal, union officials remain the only class of citizens allowed, under federal law, to commit violence against their fellow citizens.

    Under the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous Enmons decision, union officials may destroy property, assault employees, and even murder them, and escape prosecution under federal extortion laws, so long as such violence is undertaken to secure what the Supreme Court called "legitimate" objectives, such as wage increases.

    Our investigation of labor violence has revealed thousands of incidents of vandalism, arson, assaults, threats and murder perpetrated by union officials and their agents compiled from newspaper reports over the past two decades. As discovered from an in-depth investigation of the New York Daily News strike of 1990, such violence is often planned by union officials who seek out an employer's vulnerable points, and move on to other points when they fail to exact enough punishment.

    The scope of this crisis is underscored by the fact that while the Institute has compiled about 500 reports of union violence since 1975 in New York state, the New York City Police Department recorded more than 500 violent incidents in the 1990 Daily News strike alone.

    The failure of law enforcement to curb strike violence is particularly troubling. While the Institute has recorded over 8,500 incidents of union violence since 1975, only 220 reports of convictions have been found. In the Daily News strike, then-governor Mario Cuomo down-played the violence and refused to acknowledge any conspiracy on the part of the Newspaper and Magazine Drivers hierarchy to firebomb newsstands whose owners sold the Daily News. Even the F.B.I. declined to investigate the violence, citing the Enmons decision as their chief constraint.

    When truck driver Eddie York was murdered in 1993 for crossing a United Mine Workers (UMW) picket line, federal authorities could charge his killer with nothing more serious than "incapacitating" a driver on a federal road. Given the UMW's enormous political influence in West Virginia, no state charges have ever been brought against the UMW militant who made York's wife a widow and left his children fatherless.

    It is highly impractical to prosecute union militants for violent activities under federal laws targeting organized crime. It isn't enough to substantiate a criminal act. Federal law requires proof of at least two commissions of the same crime to invoke its racketeering law.

    Meanwhile, with an increasing number of states enacting extortion laws exempting union officials from prosecution for the so-called "legitimate" objectives cited in Enmons, the federal government's intervention is required to end a regime in which, according to Nobel laureate Friedrich A. Hayek, "They [unions] have become the only important instance in which governments signally fail in their prime function -- the prevention of coercion and violence."


    History of Judicial Involvement

    After conducting a series of field hearings in 1933, the Copeland subcommittee of the Senate committee on Interstate Commerce introduced 13 bills intended to prevent the spread of organized crime, including the Anti-Racketeering Act of 1934. (1) As finally enacted by the House and Senate, the Act made it a felony to obtain money or other "valuable consideration" by the use or threat of force, violence or coercion, so long as the act or threat had a connection to interstate commerce, and that the consideration did not include "the payment of wages by a bonafide employer to a bonafide employee." (2) How this applied to union violence, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1942.

    After passage of the Anti-Racketeering Act, Local 807 of the Teamsters decided to expand their territory outside of New York City. In order to persuade truckers from outside New York City to use the local's services, members would greet the truckers with guns and charge a toll equal to one day's union wage. In some cases, the members of local 807 would drive the trucks into the city. In other cases, the members took the money and departed. In no case were the members of local 807 employed by the out-of-town trucking companies.

    Since these tactics at least doubled the cost of transporting goods into New York, most if not all of the local trucking companies signed contracts with Local 807. However, federal charges were filed against Local 807 and some of its members under the anti-racketeering law.

    In 1942, the Supreme Court ruled, to the considerable consternation of Congress, that "bonafide employees" could include individuals who had never applied for a job with the employer. Additionally the "wage" exception could include other labor representation issues. (3)

    In reaction to the Local 807 decision, several attempts were made to amend the Anti-Racketeering Act. Finally, Congress enacted the Hobbs Act in 1951. (4) This time, Congress completely eliminated the "wage" exception, under which union officials could extort wage increases, as well as a clause exempting union violence from prosecution if such action would impair the "rights of legitimate labor organizations in lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof...." (5)

    But in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling that still stands today, disemboweled the Hobbs Act of its central purpose to criminalize extortion by union officials and their agents.

    In the Enmons (6) case, three members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) were indicted for firing high-powered rifles at three utility company transformers, draining the oil from a transformer, and blowing up a transformer substation during a strike. However, the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, dismissed the charges on the grounds that, in the context of a strike, the militants' actions were not illegal since they were in pursuit of "legitimate" union objectives.

    Although the Hobbs Act had eliminated any mention of "legitimate" objectives which might justify union officials' extortion, a plurality of the Supreme Court decided that Congress had retained an ambiguity.

    That ambiguity concerned a requirement for the "wrongful" use of force, violence or fear, as an element of the crime. (7) The majority opinion agonizes over whether "wrongful" becomes superfluous, unless it is limited to cases in which the ends, as well as the means, are unlawful.

    "[W]rongful" [violence] has meaning in the Act only if it limits the statute's coverage to those instances where the obtaining of the property would itself be "wrongful" because the alleged extortionist has no lawful claim to that property. (8) (emphasis added)

    In short, the plurality held that the Hobbs Act did not reach "the use of violence to achieve legitimate union objectives...." (9) The Court defined legitimate union objectives to include higher wages in return for genuine services. Legitimate objectives would exclude the extraction of wages for "imposed, unwanted, superfluous and fictitious services" or personal payoffs.

    Either forgetting or ignoring the fact that Congress passed the Hobbs Act in outraged response to the High Court's Local 807 decision 31 years earlier, the Court interpreted the Hobbs Act to punish only those acts punishable under that 1942 ruling

    It was this distortion of congressional intent, so blatant that one wonders whether it was deliberate, that Justice William Douglas blistered in his dissent:

    At times, the legislative history of a measure is so clouded or obscure that we must perforce give some meaning to vague words. But where, as here, the consensus of the House is so clear, we should carry out its purpose ... [namely that] the regime of violence, whatever its precise objective, is a common device of extortion and is condemned by the Act. (10)

    History of Congressional Oversight

    Congress last held hearings specifically on the Hobbs Act in 1984. (11) Those hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee identified the ineffectiveness of the Hobbs Act as interpreted by Enmons, demonstrating that labor violence was coordinated by union officials. In some cases, union officials facilitated the violence by busing union members to the site of violence.

    As a result of the hearings, several amendments (12) to the Hobbs Act were proposed. The amendments would have dramatically limited the conduct required to be "wrongful", and explicitly extended the Hobbs Act to punish violence used to achieve legitimate union objectives. The amendments were not enacted.

    In 1985, the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee also held hearings on the need for changes to the Hobbs Act. (13) In particular, the hearings targeted the violence related to a strike by the Cement Workers Union against the Missouri Portland Cement Company.

    The testimony revealed a pattern of escalating violence which ultimately jeopardized innocent third parties. Those third parties included firemen called after strikers cut down power lines. The manager of a trucking terminal and his wife were repeatedly fired on by high powered rifles. Their sin was allowing some of Portland Cement's truckers to use the terminal. Throughout the strike, the local's president and vice president encouraged the pickets and personally blocked entrance to the plant.

    More importantly, Illinois State Policemen watched repeated instances of criminal conduct without responding.

    Oversight of Organized Crime Involvement in Labor Unions

    Shortly after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the Hobbs Act, a Presidential Commission on Organized Crime held a series of hearings into the influence of organized crime over four large unions. (14) The Commission was entertained by the testimony of former mobsters and union members. Those witnesses who did not claim the privilege against self incrimination, told a story of mob control over the Service Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Laborers International Union of North America, and the Associated Building Trades Council. In each union, numerous local, district and international officers were shown to be mobsters.

    Ken Eto, a self confessed mob leg breaker, testified to the way LIUNA locals in Chicago were parceled out to mob captains. (15) Eto agreed to testify after the President of LIUNA Local 1 ordered his Vice President to murder Eto. Eto testified that the Local 1 Vice President and another man fired three bullets into Eto's head. Although he was not killed, Eto realized he could no longer work with the union.

    An unnamed witness testified to the pervasiveness of payoffs in the construction trades unions. According to his testimony, he received his first bribe shortly after his election as a local officer. Payoffs were the "price of labor peace." (16) The payoffs bought not just peace, but also the right to employ less expensive trades where more expensive trades might otherwise be required.

    Robert E. Powell, an international vice president of LIUNA testified about the mob bosses' control over the union's highest positions. Mr. Powell was initially approached by Arthur Coia, then Secretary-Treasurer of LIUNA, to discourage him from running for international president.

    Coia, the son of a Rhode Island council president affiliated with the Patriarca crime family, suggested that the bosses had reserved the presidency for a mob affiliate. (17) Arthur Coia had himself been indicted for embezzlement in 1981, but escaped a trial because the statute of limitations had expired. (18) The commission staff identified 156 federal indictments of LIUNA officials between 1980 and 1984. (19)

    In its final report, the Commission concluded that with its ruling in the Enmons case, the U.S. Supreme Court created a "loophole that allows organized crime figures to obtain ... personal gains through the extortion of employees." Indeed, the Commission pointed out that mafia-controlled unions could justify "violent acts against a nonunion business competitor ... [as] a legitimate, non-prosecutable labor objective such as a union organizing effort, when the actual purpose was to eliminate unwanted business competition for the syndicate (emphasis added.)" (20)


    The New York Daily News Strike

    The Daily News strike was not about wages. The News requested work rule changes designed to eliminate jobs which were no longer necessary due to advances in technology and distribution practices. A number of the positions targeted for elimination were no show jobs in which persons are paid even though they never show up at the job.

    Union officials took the position that they had bargained for those jobs and that the News had failed to make capital improvements that would have made the company more competitive. The Tribune Company, publisher of the Daily News, was already losing money on its investment. The growth of Newsday, a competing paper which targeted Long Island, had cut into the News' circulation. In the Tribune Company's view, additional capital improvements without work rule changes could not return productivity.

    At first, the News was able to publish with supervisors, managers and a handful of others. The New York City Police cooperated with the paper to prevent damage to delivery vehicles. The quality of the paper improved as replacement workers cleaned the inkwells more often and replaced the rollers in the ancient printing presses more often than before the strike. Union officials called for a boycott by readers and advertisers to little effect.

    A relatively low level of violence began the first day of the strike, October 26, 1990. Delivery trucks were pelted with stones and bricks. Other trucks were blocked by strikers and the trucks and drivers struck with baseball bats. Carloads of strikers pursued delivery trucks. On this first day, a striking union member was arrested for transporting Molotov cocktails. Rarely did a striker act alone. By the second day over fifty delivery trucks had been burned. The violent actors appeared in groups of up to several dozen. The strikers knew the delivery routes and coordinated their attacks.

    However, the attacks on delivery trucks were not productive. Many of the trucks were manned by security guards with strike experience. Most trucks were accompanied by additional guards in cars and equipped with video cameras. The unions made it easy for the News to file criminal and unfair labor practice complaints.

    In response, the union hierarchy began a campaign against the newsstands which sold the Daily News. As independent vendors, the newsstand owners represented the epitome of American small business. They invested their savings in one or two newsstands. They frequently worked the stands themselves or hired family. The News did not have the resources to guard all the newsstands in metropolitan New York, and neither did the newsstand owners. So, the unions divided the newsstands into territories, and sent out their promoters of union "solidarity."

    The union militants spread out to each newsstand to see if the Daily News was being sold. The representative might only threaten a mass picketing at the newsstand, or he might be more explicit. Frequently, additional union activists would follow the same day and snatch away any copies of the News. The copies would be tossed into the street, scattered on subway platforms, or burned. The union representative would visit each day to ensure that the newsstand no longer took delivery of the News. Frequently the strikers would follow the delivery trucks and pick up the papers before the newsdealer could.

    On subsequent days, individual and small groups of union militants would come to warn the newsdealers of the flammability of their stands. A vendor in Brooklyn reported that one union representative threatened to "pour gasoline on the newsstand, set the newsstand on fire, and burn him alive." Another vendor watched as "some people came and took all the Daily News and they made a fire outside. They were six people ... I don't sell the Daily News because I have four kids and have to watch myself."

    Investigators estimated that over a thousand reports of threats and harassment were received from newsdealers. The Tribune Company's own staff recorded over two thousand potential legal violations by strikers. The New York City Police Department, which covers only a portion of the News' delivery area, recorded more than 500 incidents. The New York City Police also arrested over 150 strikers and 40 non-striking News employees.

    Members of the Newspaper and Magazine Drivers Union (NMDU) who drove for the New York Post and New York Times joined in the threats against the newsdealers. A Wall Street Journal truck commandeered by the union was repeatedly reported as picking up copies of the Daily News to prevent sales. NMDU officials admit meeting with activists in the Roofers union hall to coordinate attacks. The Roofers union hall was blocks from the News' printing plant.

    Mike McAlary, a News columnist who transferred to the New York Post, wrote a description of one raid in his virgin column for the Post. (21) The column and an accompanying article strongly sided with the strikers. Nevertheless, the facts McAlary included are condemning. McAlary reported that he met the strikers at a Roofers Union hall in Brooklyn.

    "A scout had walked into the room and whispered, `We're doing a thing in the Bronx tonight' ... The cars began arriving at the Alexander's [Department Store] Plaza parking lot ... I couldn't help the drivers on the picket line. But now I was standing with them ... Fairness had just been written into the equation that is the Daily News labor war ... The drivers stood facing Story Avenue waiting for orders ... By 2 a.m., there were 21 cars in the lot ... And then the moment for action came. The drivers huddled around the man in the tam-o-shanter ... The target the face under the tam-o-shanter explained was a Daily News drop off point in the Hunts Point Market ... `I don't care what you do. But stop the truck. If you want to burn it, go ahead. But if you're going to burn it, remember what the firemen over in Brooklyn told us. Keep the truck doors open. That makes it burn faster ... The cars pulled out of the lot at around 2:30 a.m. heading for a confrontation at the Hunts Point Market ... The cars rolled into the market in single file ...

    The strikers parked their cars across the street from a fenced-in truck lot. I saw a couple of guys picking up rocks. In the boredom of waiting for war, they juggled them like oranges. The company's scout car, with two [security guards] rolled onto the street at around 3 a.m. The guards stopped, and seeing the strikers, screeched back up the block in reverse. The driver of the Daily News truck, having been warned of the striker's force, turned around and headed back into the city." (Emphasis added.)

    Bombing became more violent and more common. On October 31st 1990, eleven strikers were arrested in possession of homemade bombs at one site in Staten Island. Investigators for the New York Fire Department complained that the strikers were especially callous towards the innocent victims of the bombing campaign.

    Advertisers were threatened. Unionized retailers who advertized in the News were threatened with strikes for advertising in the Daily News. The owner of Castro Convertibles, a furniture maker, received death threats for continued advertising.

    Local politicians turned against the News. Mayor Dinkins refused the News permission to recruit salesmen in the city homeless shelters. The News was forced to sue the Metropolitan Transit Authority for the right to sell the paper in subways. The police department, courts, public defenders, district attorneys, probation officers and security guards in New York City are all unionized. The institutions of law enforcement were reluctant to condemn or rein in the newspaper unions. Even Governor Mario Cuomo, whose political base was in the city, downplayed the violence and absolved the unions of any conspiracy. The unionized writers at the competing newspapers also gave the strikers great leeway.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation was already investigating the Newspaper and Magazine Deliverers Union. But citing the constraints of Enmons, the F.B.I. declined to investigate union coordination of strike violence. The New York District Attorney also declined to investigate, even though their ongoing investigation would result in a criminal enterprise indictment against the Deliverers Union after the strike ended. (22) The News' own security staff consisting principally of former New York City detectives were barred by the National Labor Relations Act from investigating the union's leadership. (23)

    The Detroit Newspaper Strike

    Currently both major newspapers in Detroit, Michigan are fighting for their lives against six unions. The papers combined their support operations several years ago in an economy move. Each paper maintains a separate editorial staff. Printing, delivery and other activities are performed by a joint operating company.

    On July 17, 1995, members of the six unions, including the Newspaper Guild and the Teamsters, walked off the job complaining of wage and work rule issues. Immediately the newspapers were forced to surround their facilities with video-camera-toting security guards to record union assaults. Observers estimated that 3,000 to 4,000 strikers surrounded the printing plant. The strikers swung their picket signs at Detroit police officers attempting to separate the strikers from the company's security guards. Other police officers were struck by thrown bricks. As many as 200 police officers were called to the scene.

    As the strike continued, the violence escalated. Two months into the strike, a bomb was discovered and defused outside the company's production facility. One week later, 17 strikers were arrested for assaulting police officers. Three days later, the number arrested climbed by 23. Sixteen of those were described as strikers, the remaining 7 as outside agitators.

    Borrowing tactics from the Daily News strike, the Newspaper Guild publicly announced their members would follow company trucks to prevent distribution of the paper. (24)

    An investigator for the company confirmed they were good to their word. "Strikers stole papers or set them on fire. They threatened vendors and roughed up non-striking workers." Retired FBI agents hired to investigate claims of union misconduct estimated that more than 200 misdemeanor complaints were filed in the first nine months of the strike. Although they felt certain the threats and assaults were coordinated by the union bosses, they were unable to satisfy legal requirements for any felony indictments.

    In November 1995, the president of one striking union even announced a deliberate plan to run up police costs in Detroit and surrounding communities. (25)

    The United Mine Workers

    The UMW strikes after 1983 dramatically illustrate two important truths. First, strike violence does not result in better contract terms for the strikers. Second, a disparity in state law enforcement and an absence of federal law enforcement creates a disparity in injuries. Lax law enforcement increases the number and degree of injuries. Active law enforcement reduces the number and degree of injuries.

    The United Mine Workers history of violence was well documented up through 1983 by Thieblot and Haggard. (26) The four month strike of 1981 had just wound up before they published their study. As Thieblot and Haggard documented, the jurisdictions which aggressively policed strikers saw relatively low levels of violence. The jurisdictions taking a hands-off approach saw high levels of violence. In 1984, this pattern was repeated.

    The UMW prepared its membership for a strike through articles in the UMW Journal, and by assessing contributions to a selective strike fund. The active mines in Pennsylvania and Virginia were relatively few in 1984. A.T. Massey Company's mines in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky were the focus of the 1984 strike.

    The principal unresolved issue was the common ownership clause inserted in 1981 union contracts. The UMW interpreted the contracts as obligating non-union subsidiaries of holding companies with union subsidiaries to pay union wages and union dues. The mining companies viewed each subsidiary as an independent employer. As the large mining companies closed union mines and expanded operations at non-union subsidiaries, the UMW became more irritated.

    The mines and miners prepared as they traditionally have. The companies built up stocks of coal and hired security guards. The miners selected targets. The coal fields of Kentucky and West Virginia are hilly and mostly forested. To reach the mines and collieries, employees, suppliers and coal transporters generally have the choice of one road. The road winds back and forth along canyon bottoms. Access can be easily blocked by bands of strikers or a lone sniper.

    Kentucky had avoided interfering in strike activities during the 1981 coal strike. As a result, the state was roundly criticized for subsequent injuries. This time, Kentucky State Policemen were more active in suppressing violence and making arrests. Consequently, West Virginia became the site of the worst violence.

    The UMW is admittedly the most powerful force in West Virginia politics. No politician in the state wants to side against the union. As a consequence, neither local, county or state police intervened to prevent union violence during the 1984 strike. Large numbers of strikers formed the traditional gauntlets along the entry roads to company facilities. Drivers of coal transports were pulled from their trucks and beaten. Cars containing non-striking employees were rolled over with their occupants inside.

    All this activity occurred in front of West Virginia State Troopers placidly observing. In many cases, the violence and the Troopers' inaction were preserved on videotape.

    As always, property damage was extensive. The homes of mine managers were fired into almost nightly. The companies opted to move the managers and their families every few days. More than one processing facility began to look like a cheese grater after late night shootings. Frequent sightings of a black van nicknamed the War Wagon, after a John Wayne movie, were reported. According to the boastings of UMW members, the War Wagon was bulletproofed and fitted out to carry a UMW SWAT team. Unfortunately, the War Wagon was never apprehended.

    Despite extensive injuries to individuals on both sides and property damage, the striking miners settled for a substantially less generous contract in November 1988 than the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA) signed in 1984. (27)

    Pittston Coal objected to the 1984 BCOA contract and was struck. The Pittston strike lasted until December 1989 and also ended with numerous union concessions. In the course of the strike, the UMW recorded 4,000 arrests among its members. (28) A Virginia court also assessed $64 million in damages against the union and its affiliates. But in 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the fines.

    Scattered smaller strikes have followed the 1988 and 1989 settlements. These smaller strikes did not lack violence. Once again the Enmons decision prevented effective federal action.

    In 1993, Eddie York, an independent contractor, was shot through the head as he was being driven to work at one of the coal mines being struck. Mr. York left a wife and daughter to mourn him. The FBI was able to identify the shooter, a striking UMW member named Jerry Lowe.

    The State of West Virginia declined to try Mr. Lowe for murder or even assault. The FBI and U.S. Attorney lacked the authority to bring murder charges except in very limited cases. Enmons foreclosed the possibility of federal extortion charges against the tough talking leadership of the UMW.

    Consequently, Mr. Lowe was charged and convicted of nothing more serious than "incapacitating" the driver of a vehicle on a federal roadway. Had Eddie York been shot on a state funded road, even that charge would have been blocked.

    Recent Teamsters Activity

    Branching out from their traditional areas of strength such as trucking, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters now represent health care workers and even police officers. The Teamsters are currently attempting to organize the U.S. Capitol Police, who have jurisdiction over federal facilities and their surroundings in Washington, D.C. The Teamsters remain the only American union international to be placed in trusteeship. Even so, Teamster violence continues.

    Although no strike had been called, a sudden upsurge in property damage accompanied contract discussions in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The contract discussions concerned whether the Denny-Reyburn Company would force its employees to join the Teamsters.

    The property damage was inflicted at the widely dispersed homes of non-union employees whom, the Teamsters were attempting to convince, would be better off if they were all union members. (29)

    With the rise of the so-called "reformist," Ron Carey, defenders of the Teamsters assert that they have eliminated their mob links. Nevertheless, a court appointed investigator reported in May 1995 that union bosses made regular payments to mobsters and provided no show jobs at the Javits Convention Center for other mobsters. (30) The pattern of payments began in 1986 and continued through 1995, four years after Carey won the Teamsters' presidency. The no show jobs paid as much as $100,000 a year.

    The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

    Near Anchorage, Alaska, in 1987 a consumer owned utility was violently struck by members of the IBEW. The strike involved fewer than 200 workers employed by the Chugach Electric Association. The union sought to close the shop to non-union workers.

    A high power rifle bullet fired into a transformer on the second day of the strike left homes without electricity in a cold Alaskan March. When replacement workers attempted to restore power, they were blocked by strikers. The strikers slashed repair vehicle tires to prevent repairs. The following day strikers again threatened a repair crew attempting to restore power to 1,000 homes. The utility suffered four suspicious power outages in the first four days of the strike.

    Ultimately man-made outages struck four entire communities serviced by the utility. One non-striking employee was forced to relocate his family after pickets threatened to rape and murder his wife.

    The union established roving picket lines wherever repair crews went. The local president admitted the union monitored radioed repair calls and met the trucks. When the repair crews arrived, they were prevented from leaving their trucks by the pickets who arrived first. The utility's General Manager was rammed twice in his car. Additional company vehicles were rammed on subsequent days.

    Despite assertions of peaceful intentions by the union president, another union militant threatened the utility's Board of Directors, "You settle it (the strike) or we'll bring this town down." (31)

    In all, IBEW militants deprived 400,000 Alaskans of power in the middle of winter. (32)

    Although union officials suggest that strike related violence springs from the heated emotions of the picket line, IBEW members have shown a calculated willingness to track victims.

    Three members of IBEW Local 2208 followed non-union employees of Simplex Wire & Cable home. There the union members beat the non-union workers. The IBEW members were arrested and convicted. (33) Two other Local 2208 members, including a shop steward, were charged with assaulting a police officer. Later, IBEW strikers dented and broke windows on 65 cars leaving the Simplex plant one evening.

    The Local's leadership watched nearby without moving to stop the violence. (34) The Local's Business Manager demonstrated his control over the strikers by sending them home in exchange for the release of four arrested union members.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    vidcc's Avatar there is no god
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    I am not up on this one either however i do believe that jp is right in thinking that one cannot "get away with murder" and they will be prosecuted under a different law.

    Murder is murder whatever the reason.

    it may be the case that the mentioned trials were brought under the wrong act, in which case the DA concerened should be blamed.

    i do however agree that the law needs changing.... intimidation is not acceptable no matter the cause

    it’s an election with no Democrats, in one of the whitest states in the union, where rich candidates pay $35 for your votes. Or, as Republicans call it, their vision for the future.

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    Biggles's Avatar Looking for loopholes
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    The concept that it is ok to kick someone to death in order to secure legitimate Union objectives is one that has sailed straight over my head - and that is speaking as a Union office bearer.

    Much as The Strawbs song brings a happy smile to my face - GBH is not the picture it conjures up in my mind.

    Sometimes I think I (sort of) understand the US and then it just flutters out of my grasp.
    Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
    I think what J2 is pointing out, and mind you this is just my take, I'm not up on the subject either, is that murder is charged as murder, but the union is exempt from racketeering charges.

    By racketeering, I think this would mean that the entire union and it's members would be viewed as a "mafia" or organized crime and so criminal penalties would fall on them all and the union would be dis-assembled and all it's assets seized.

    By doing things to achieve "legitimate business goals", they somehow cannot be viewed in this way, so the individuals involved may take they fall for the union, but the union is allowed to continue and keep it's assets.

    If however the union was involved in violence for the purpose of gambling or drugs (illegal activities), then this activity would make it fall under "racketeering charges" and the entire union would take the fall.

    That is my take on it.

    I think it is a technicality which determines how the prosecution can pursue a case.

    Still very scary stuff.

    In America during the industrial revolution, the business owners used to abuse the workers something awful: 16 hour days, 7 day weeks, children worked, sick people fired.

    Unions were created in an effort to level the playing field and over time the pendulum swung way the other way, and now the unions extort the businesses.

    Absolute power corrupts......
    Last edited by hobbes; 02-02-2005 at 11:11 PM.

  6. The Drawing Room   -   #6
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Oh, please...
    Oh, shit-

    Sorry I didn't think of this earlier-here is the rest of that report-it didn't occur to me to split it up.

    This picks up where the first post left off, and is quite a bit more explanatory than the first part, at least as to the active parameters of offense, etc.

    I think it will clear a few things up:


    Strike related violence is both geographically and economically widespread. All fifty states have seen instances of strike violence in the last twenty years. Most segments of the economy have experienced strike-related violence in the last twenty years. We have made a concerted effort to eliminate intra-union and inter-union violence from this discussion.

    Intra-union violence refers to the common occurrence of injuries resulting from union election contests or power struggles. Admittedly, these contests are generally more violent than labor management contests but, intra-union violence is not a principal target of the Hobbs Act.

    Inter-union violence refers to injuries resulting from turf wars between unions or locals. These sometime epic battles are fought over who organizes certain employers or whose members perform which tasks on a job site. A common example is who unloads materials at a construction site, Laborers or the skilled trades.

    The numbers presented here are based on separate injuries as reported in news media available through Burrelle's News Service. As a result, the numbers dramatically understate the actual volume of strike related acts of violence.

    This effect can be observed by examining the New York State statistics for January 1975 to the end of 1995. The number of reported incidents for the twenty year period is 507. In the Daily News strike, the number of reported incidents is 71. In the Daily News strike alone, the New York Police Department recorded more than 500 incidents and the Tribune Company recorded over 1,000.

    As stated earlier, there were more than 200 misdemeanor complaints filed against the striking unions in the Detroit newspaper strike, more than double the 83 incidents reported in local newspapers during the same period.

    Even if all media were screened, the sample would not be all inclusive. When a strike continues for an extended period of time, it ceases to be news. These statistics should be regarded more as an indicator of relative concern rather than absolute figures. In sum, union violence and all strike violence is dramatically under-reported by the press.


    Spillover Violence

    The impact which cannot be explained away or minimized are the injuries to bystanders. The 30,000 homes left without electricity in the Alaskan winter and the 31,000 Michigan homes cut off from telephone service by sabotage suffer in some way.

    Is it appropriate for IBEW members to insult mothers transporting their infants to a Hamilton, New Jersey, day care center? The mother whose side view mirror was broken off did not employ the non-union electricians working in the office park. Not even the day care center was involved in hiring them. If the IBEW wanted to organize the electricians, cursing at mothers and their children is a strange path to that goal.

    With firebombs and shooting at power transformers in the union arsenal, firemen and neighbors inevitably will be injured. For instance, Julian Bley, a volunteer firefighter was killed moving a fire ladder. A union electrician by occupation, Julian Bley was killed when the ladder touched a high tension line at the Purex plant in Bristol, Pennsylvania. The arson fire followed a bomb threat and a ten-week strike by the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union. Earlier, shots and an explosive arrow had been fired into the plant.

    Should Eldon Fowler have died for moonlighting as a security guard? Eldon Fowler was an ordained minister and studying to become a missionary when he and another security guard were shot. Did his young wife, mother and brothers deserve the pain of burying a 26-year-old husband, son and brother?

    Eldon Fowler's sin was working nights at Jarl Extrusions', Elizabethton, Tennessee plant. Jarl Extrusions had been struck by the United Steelworkers of America. According to police reports, union pickets moved away from the site of the shooting shortly before it occurred. Eldon Fowler was struck by buckshot fired from a passing vehicle. Other shots had been fired into the plant, but no one was hit until Eldon Fowler.

    Reform From Within The Unions

    Each new slate of proposed union patriarchs attempts to carry the "reform" label. Nevertheless, the new bosses frequently mirror the old bosses. Some are the sons of convicted mob affiliated union bosses, like Jimmy Hoffa Jr. and Arthur Coia.

    Both of their fathers were convicted of felonies. Both of their fathers associated closely with known mobsters. Both of them were elected to union office over the complaints of other union members that the sons had not satisfied the eligibility rules. Both claim to be reformers, but as discussed earlier, both of the sons have personal mob-related issues in their closets. More importantly, neither has foresworn violence.

    Arthur Coia is a prime example of the new "reformers." In 1981, Arthur Jr. was indicted along with his father and Rhode Island's leading mobster for racketeering. The indictment was later dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.

    When, in 1994, the Department of Justice sought to take over the Laborer's International Union of North America (LIUNA), Coia's contacts with the Clinton White House apparently prevented the takeover or any personal indictment. Instead, LIUNA was allowed to hire 32 retired FBI agents to conduct an internal investigation and rout out at least some of the organized crime figures.

    Coia's negotiating strength was no doubt enhanced by his personal contacts with Hillary Clinton and his work as a Democratic party fundraiser. LIUNA ranks 6th in soft money contributions to the Democratic party. During the period the draft indictment was pending, Coia co-chaired a Democratic fundraiser which brought in $3.5 million.

    Coia now takes credit for cleaning up the same Buffalo, New York, District Council that Coia himself was accused, in the Justice Department's draft indictment, of helping to raid union benefit plans. The District Council sought to gain control of a LIUNA local in Rochester, New York. The Rochester local was considered relatively clean by FBI agents who investigated the case. One investigator expressed the opinion that, "Coia supported the takeover bid. Even though he knew of the District Council's mob ties." Given their background, "reformers" like Coia are unlikely to curb strike violence.


    While a number of federal and state laws exist which could be applied to the union violence dealt with in the Enmons case. There are serious gaps in coverage and a number of practical difficulties which have prevented effective action against strike violence.

    The Remainder of the Hobbs Act

    Enmons does not entirely empty the Hobbs Act of its power. Enmons grants immunity only to those acts directed toward what the Supreme Court has deemed a "legitimate union objective." The Supreme Court expressly preserved the Hobbs Act sanctions for threats made to obtain no show positions and "superfluous" positions where no real services are rendered.

    But as seen in the Daily News strike, the FBI and U.S. attorneys are not eager to sort through the "legitimate" and "superfluous" union goals. How should they decide whether one legitimate objective justifies all the illicit means to that objective?

    More mundanely, if clear cases of embezzlement, bribery or bid-rigging can be made, is it desirable to pursue a more difficult Hobbs Act case? In many cases, the additional effort required to establish the intent to extort and the illegitimacy of the union's objectives will not be worth the penalty.

    National Labor Relations Board

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the federal agency responsible for regulating labor-management relations under the National Labor Relations Act, which covers all private sector employees except for those in Transportation. However, the NLRB has consistently turned a blind eye to union violence.

    As James Bovard pointed out in the June 2, 1994 Wall Street Journal, the NLRB has held since 1979 that it will only charge union officials with an "unfair labor practice" only if "the conduct was so violent ... as to render an employee unfit for future service." In other words, short of killing or crippling a non-striking worker, the NLRB's position is hands-off.


    The Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act (35) was intended to provide greater jurisdiction for federal agencies fighting organized crime, as well as greater powers of punishment. While RICO is a valuable tool, it has, nonetheless, proven to be more cumbersome than the Hobbs Act.

    RICO requires the prosecutor -- or private plaintiff -- to demonstrate the existence of a criminal enterprise encompassing a number of criminal acts -- at least two related crimes covered under RICO.

    RICO does provide a private cause of action, which permits the recovery of attorney's fees and treble damages. The existence of the private cause of action frees the employer from dependence on politically sheepish prosecutors. On the other hand, the evidentiary burdens can be substantially greater than under the pre-Enmons Hobbs Act.

    The Hobbs Act only requires proof of one crime, while RICO requires a pattern of racketeering activity. The use of RICO against union violence is not limited by the existence of a strike. But the use of the Hobbs Act as a predicate offense for RICO would be subject to the same loophole opened up by the Supreme Court in Enmons.

    State Law Extortion

    Each state has a statutory extortion offense. The offense may be known as extortion, threat, coercion, larceny or theft. While the statutes may be worded differently, ultimately, they all are subject to a common frailty: political reality.

    Several of the states, which have seen numerous instances of union violence but low levels of prosecution, illustrate the over-arching weakness of state prosecutions. Unions are effective political machines. In urban areas, they may be the most effective political organizations. As was demonstrated in New York by the Daily News strike and in West Virginia by the UMW strikes, the statute is meaningless where law enforcement, the courts and the prosecutorial machinery are all subject to union influence.

    A large number of states base their extortion statute on the Model Penal Code's (MPC) provision. The MPC, the result of consultations among the states' attorneys general, creates an exclusive list of threats that are considered extortion. (36)

    Yet, the MPC's model extortion law provides union officials the same exemptions from prosecution granted them by the U.S. Supreme Court's Enmons ruling!

    For instance, the MPC only applies to strike violence, "if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the person making the threat or suggestion purports to act." In short, only if union officials orchestrate violence to obtain no-show positions would that violence be subject to prosecution.

    Recalling the decision in Enmons that "legitimate" union objectives justified union violence, the MPC lists "compensation for property or lawful services" as "a defense to the prosecution" of union violence under the MPC's extortion statute.

    Other states include additional requirements for the offense. A handful of states require malicious intent. (37)


    The Hobbs Act suffers from a gaping hole. That hole permits unbridled violence as a means to achieve union ends. Historically, the adverse consequences of strike violence have been obvious. Currently, the decline in total union membership may be lulling some into a false sense of security. A more careful look at the little publicized but real union violence occurring today, should rouse our concerns.

    We know that union violence is not only unnecessary to successful dispute resolution, but also counterproductive. Violence freezes the parties into their positions, and motivates them to extract a pound of flesh for each injury. As the cases discussed above demonstrate violence does not result in contract gains for the employees forced out to the picket line by union officials.

    More importantly, union violence is bound to spill over onto the innocent. Unintended consequences follow each bout of violence. As the violence escalates, the threat to the community increases.

    RICO and provisions of labor law can be invoked for particular problems. Nevertheless RICO is substantially more difficult to use than the original Hobbs Act, and provisions of federal labor law lack a broad enough scope to address strike violence. Taken as a whole, State law exempts strike violence and creates uneven treatment where the strike crosses state lines.

    Differences in the wording of statutes and court decisions, combined with varying attitudes toward enforcement, leave dangerous disparities between states. Consequently, states may be put at a disadvantage in providing a peaceful environment for their residents and in attracting industry.

    Little has changed since 1958 when Dr. Roscoe Pound, former Dean of the Harvard University law school, decried "the substantially general privileges and immunities of labor unions and their members and officials to commit wrongs to person and property, to interfere with the use of highways, to break contracts, to deprive individuals of the means of earning a livelihood ... things which no one else can do with impunity. The labor leader and the labor union now stand where the king and government ... stood at common law." (38)

    Restoring the original intent of the Hobbs Act, pre-Enmons, would be a giant step in restoring the normal rule of law to labor-management relations.

    (1) 48 Stat. 979, hereinafter the Anti-Racketeering Act.

    (2) The Anti-Racketeering Act, supra, Sec. 2(a).

    (3) U.S. v. Teamsters Local 807, 315 U.S. 521 (1942).

    (4) 60 Stat. 420, codified as, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1951.

    (5) Anti-Racketeering Act, Sec. 6.

    (6) U.S. V. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396 (1973).

    (7) Enmons, supra, 410 U.S. at 399-400.

    (8) Enmons, supra, 410 U.S. at 399-400.

    (9) Enmons, supra, 410 U.S. at 400.

    (10) Enmons, supra, 410 U.S. at 418.

    (11) Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. S. Hrg. 98-1009 (1984).

    (12) S. 462, 98th Cong., 1st Sess. (Jan. 25, 1983).

    (13) S. Hrg. 99-251, Labor Violence, Hearings Before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate (2/27 & 3/26 1985).

    (14) President's Commission on Organized Crime, Record of Hearing VI, April 22-24, 1985, Chicago, Illinois, Organized Crime and Labor Management Racketeering in the United States, Supt. of Docs. No. 85-603235.

    (15) President's Commission on Organized Crime pp. 19-42.

    (16) The President's Commission on Organized Crime, pp. 94-95.

    (17) The President's Commission on Organized Crime, pp. 99-127.

    (18) See also, infra p. 20.

    (19) The President's Commission on Organized Crime, p. 132.

    (20) The President's Commission on Organized Crime, Sec. 11, p. 22.

    (21) M. McAlary, "Behind the Lines as News' Union Drivers Go to War, New York Post p. 2, (Nov. 12, 1990).

    (22) R. McFadden, "Officials Say Deliverers of Papers Face Charges" New York Times (November 22, 1992); S. Raab, "Prosecutors Seek Takeover Of a Union," New York Times, p. B1 (November 24, 1992). The then current and former union president, Douglas LaChance, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator along with two other former presidents, Jerry Cronin and Michael J. Alvino. The union attorney claimed none of the union's then current management were involved in organized crime. Despite, Mr. LaChance's prior conviction for racketeering and incarceration for parole violations at the time of the indictment. The indictments described the union's ties to both the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families.

    (23) Labor Management Relations Act, P.L. 80-101, Secs. 7 & 8(a)(1).

    (24) T. Coyne, "Strike Hits 2 Papers in Detroit Negotiations End; Unions Walk," The Phoenix Gazette, p. C6 (July 14, 1995).

    (25) B. Harmon & C. Williams, "Run up cop costs," The Detroit News, p. A1:1 (November 27, 1995).

    (26) A.J. Thieblot & T.R. Haggard, Union Violence: The Record and the Response by Courts, Legislatures, and the NLRB (University of Pennsylvania 1983).

    (27) For a section by section comparison of the BCOA, Massey and Pittston agreements see, M. Triolo, The Black Debacle: From a Thundering Voice to A Confused Whisper, p. 235 (McClain Print. Co., 1991).

    (28) M.B. Fox, United We Stand, The United Mine Workers of America 1890-1990, p. 530 (United Mine Workers 1990).

    (29) See, M. Rellahan, Reward Follows 'Terrorism' Acts at Plant, Homes, Daily Local News p. 1 (5/11/85).

    (30) "Mob links Reported in N.Y. Hiring," The Evening Sun, p. 3A (May 4, 1995).

    (31) "Judge orders 150-foot buffer between workers and pickets," The Times, 3/26/87.

    (32) "Chugach says saboteurs cut electricity to 400,000," Alaska News (4/2/87).

    (33) Three Found Guilty of Assault, Portsmouth Herald (3/18/87)

    (34) J. Healy, Mob Spits on/Beats on Cars, Foster's Daily Democrat (10/7/86).

    (35) Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, Pub. L. No. 91-452, 84 Stat. 941, codified as 18 U.S. C. Secs. 1961-1968.

    (36) Model Pen. C. Sec. 223.4; AK, 11.51.520 & 11.41.530; CT, C.G.S.A. Sec. 53a-119; HI, Hi. Pen. C. Sec. 707-764; IA, Sec. 711.4; KY, Ky. Pen. C. Sec. 514.080; MD, Ann. C. Md. Art. 27 Sec. 562B; MT, Mt. C. Ann. Sec. 45-2-107; NB, Neb. Rev. Stat. Sec. 28-513; NJ, N.J. Stat. Ann. Sec. 2C:20-5; NY: Consol. Laws of N.Y. Ann. Sec. 155.05(e); PA, Penn. Consol. Stat. Ann. Sec. 3923; SD, S.D. Codified L. Sec. 22-30A-4; UT, Utah C. Ann. Sec. 76-6-406; Sec. 5-36-101; I.C. Sec. 18-2403; Colorado has taken a broader approach by striking down its extortion statute because it would have reached Enmons type activities which were found to be constitutionally protected. Whimbush v. People, 869 P.2d 1245 (Colo. 1994).

    (37) RI, Gen. L. of R.I. Sec. 11-42-2; VT, Vt. Stat. Ann. T. 13 Sec. 1701; WI, Wisc. Stat. Ann. Sec. 943.30;.

    (38) Roscoe Pound, "Legal Immunities of Labor Unions," Labor Unions and Public Policy, American Enterprise Institute (Washington, D.C., 1958), p. 145.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
    sArA's Avatar Ex-Moderatererer
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    absolutely.....Any organisation/individual that justifies the use of unscrupulous or violent acts by invoking Machiavellian concepts just needs a good kicking.

  8. The Drawing Room   -   #8
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Oh, please...
    Quote Originally Posted by Sara
    absolutely.....Any organisation/individual that justifies the use of unscrupulous or violent acts by invoking Machiavellian concepts just needs a good kicking.
    Sounds kind of violent, to me.

    I was (for reasons I can't recall) aware of this decision in '73.

    Couldn't quite wrap my mind around it until I saw it for myself; I had just become a member of the Ship-Builders union in '78 when we went on strike.

    I walked my picket for a whole day, then I picked my jaw off the ground, and went home.

    For good.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  9. The Drawing Room   -   #9
    Busyman's Avatar Use Logic Or STFU!!!
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Washington D.C.
    It's horrible that union workers resort to that kind of shit. It's also horrible that conservative groups are the main ones taking the lead (it seems) to change these laws.

    However I can't comment further because I don't fully grasp the law's intent (haven't finished the read yet; whew ).

    For all those out there across the sea, American conservatives are mostly anti-union anyway so any law to limit union power is a good law to them. Many conservatives (like our President) trumpet outsourcing jobs to India for instance.

    I'm a union worker and I've noticed the good and the bad. There are folks that should have been fired that got to keep their jobs but at the same time we watch CEO's rape Fortune 500 companies illegally while others get payouts that are legal but knocked off 300 jobs and sent them to PoCountryUnderCut.
    Silly bitch, your weapons cannot harm me. Don't you know who I am? I'm the Juggernaut, Bitchhhh!

    Flies Like An Arrow, Flies Like An Apple

  10. The Drawing Room   -   #10
    Busyman's Avatar Use Logic Or STFU!!!
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Washington D.C.
    Quote Originally Posted by j2k4
    I walked my picket for a whole day, then I picked my jaw off the ground, and went home.

    For good. decided to cross the picket line.

    Silly bitch, your weapons cannot harm me. Don't you know who I am? I'm the Juggernaut, Bitchhhh!

    Flies Like An Arrow, Flies Like An Apple

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