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May 31, 2015
Union Bosses: Licensed to Thug
Source: FORBES

A “thug” is a person of low character, often with a propensity towards violence.

The word comes to us from India, where for hundreds of years organized bands of brigands known as “thugee” would roam the countryside, accosting and robbing travelers after first gaining their trust.  The name derives from the Hindi “thag” for “deceiver.”

In contemporary America, we have our own brand of “thugee.”  Like their ancient counterparts from the Subcontinent, they are experts at shaking down their victims with threats – and even violence – after first gaining their trust by posing as “advocates.”

But in America there is an added outrage to these acts, because often they are excused – and even sanctioned – by the government.  Consider:  The Hobbs Act makes it a federal crime to use extortion or robbery to disrupt interstate or international commerce.  But in the 1973 decision United States v. Enmonsthe Supreme Court found that the Hobbs Act, “does not reach the use of violence…to achieve legitimate union objectives.”

That’s right, union bosses are free to use violence – so long as it is in furtherance of “legitimate union objectives.”  The result, as the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation notes on its website, is that, “…thousands of incidents of violent assaults (directed mostly against workers) by union militants have gone unpunished.”

So unleashed, union organizers have taken to their task with glee.  Occasionally, however, they go so far that even their government enablers are forced to step in and protect workers from their “representatives.”  In February 2014, for example, the U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania indicted ten members of the Ironworkers Local 401 union for:

“…allegedly participating in a conspiracy to commit criminal acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property, and assault in order to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers.”

And lest you think me cheeky to call union goons “thugs,” let the record reflect that, according to the U.S. Attorney:

…The [Ironworkers Local 401] defendants relied on a reputation for violence and sabotage…It is alleged that the defendants created ‘goon’ squads…to commit assaults, arsons, and destruction of property. One such squad referred to itself as the “The Helpful Union Guys,” or THUGs.”

In some states, unions are even granted immunity from stalking and identity theft laws.  In 2007, three dozen AT&T employees in North Carolina decided to opt-out of the Communications Workers of America union (North Carolina is one of the 25 right-to-work states that allow workers that freedom).

They were swiftly punished for refusing the union’s “services,” and soon found their personal information – including Social Security numbers – posted on a public bulletin board by CWA Local 3602 president John Glenn, exposing them to identity theft, fraud or worse.

Some of these workers filed suit against the union, claiming protection by North Carolina’s Identity Theft Protection Act (ITP).  Nope – the courts found the union was entitled to an exemption from the ITP, and John Glenn and Co. got away with their detestable act of retaliation.

But the injustice goes beyond unions being exempt from federal laws against violence and extortion, or being immune from prosecution under state laws against stalking and identity theft.

Unions are also exempt from the United States Constitution itself.

The First Amendment grants every American the freedoms of speech and assembly.  But in non right-to-work states, you can be forced to join a union as condition of employment…so long freedom of assembly.  And if you find yourself forced into a union, you will be forbidden by federal law from negotiating with your employer directly…so long freedom of speech.

Why are unions allowed to trample the rights, privacies and bodies of workers? Where is the outrage?  Fortunately, Rep. Earl Carter (R-GA) is sponsoring legislation in Congress – H.R. 1431 and 1432 – that would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to ensure union bosses are not exempt from state identity theft and stalking laws.

That’s a good and necessary start.  But only a start.

The thugee of Old India were finally put down by the British government in the 19th century.  Unless and until the NLRA is amended, our thugs will continue to be licensed by the American government in the 21st Century.



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