We in Canada moan about Justice Ivan Rand’s decision that shackles employees with paying dues. In the United States there are some seriously uneven playing fields. The US Chamber of Commerce has an eye-opener in their “Sabotage, Stalking & Stealth Exemptions: Special State Laws for Labor Unions”
For example, the state of Pennsylvania defines stalking as engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another under circumstances that demonstrate intent to cause substantial emotional distress to the person. But Pennsylvania, and other states with a significant union presence (e.g., California and Nevada), carve out an exemption from the crime of stalking, in the case of Pennsylvania by noting the prohibition on stalking “shall not apply to conduct by a party to a labor dispute.” Illinois has created an even arguably broader exception to stalking when the action is related to “any controversy concerning wages, salaries, hours, working conditions or benefits . . . the making or maintaining of collective bargaining agreements, and the terms to be included in those agreements.” Ironically, the very existence of these exemptions calls attention to the fact that the tactics employed by unions in their organizing activities can inflict the same level of emotional distress and intimidation caused by a stalker.
In an effort to enable property owners to protect their land from unwanted intruders, California has adopted in the “Malicious Mischief” title of the Penal Code an extensive description of the various acts that constitute the crime of trespass. These acts include the refusal to leave property belonging to another that is not open to the public after being requested to leave by the owner, the owner’s agent, or a peace officer. Significantly, however, California explicitly excludes persons engaged in labor union activities from being subject to the crime of trespassing for refusing to leave someone else’s property.
It goes on and on. It’s not a huge document, 25 pages but it give you an idea of what can happen if unions are allowed too much influence. Keep in mind that in the US, unions must report their financial records for public inspection, Canada does not have such requirements so the unions up here can throw as much money as they want trying to get these sort of exemptions and we would never know it was happening.Miscellaneous Crimes
The California legislature’s efforts to exempt labor union personnel from being charged with crimes applicable to everyone else even extends to public transportation. In the “Miscellaneous Crimes” title of the Penal Code, the state has declared that “willfully blocking the free movement of another person” in a public transit system facility or vehicle is punishable by a fine of up to $400 and 90 days imprisonment in the county jail. That is, unless the offender’s actions can be said to be related to collective bargaining. In that case, the state legislature has created an exemption from the crime, and so long as the offender is pursuing union objectives, it is permissible to block the free movement of commuters in the transit system, people who are invariably just trying to get to work or an appointment on time.
An MP introduced a Private Members Bill a year or so ago that would have required unions to file financial statements with the government, like they have in the states. It made it through into Canada’s Senate, where it was neutered and sent back.
As an example, it would be comforting to be able to have a good close look at all the union books to make sure nothing happened under the table. Alas, we’ll never be able to do that now.
I’m not sayin’…