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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 15, 2015 02:42 PM
From: Representative Ron Marsico
To: All House members
Subject: Union Intimidation Legislation
 
Criminal actions present a substantial risk to public safety and to the well-being of the Commonwealth's citizens, workers, and businesses. For that very reason we have outlawed such dangerous behaviors. A report issued in August of 2012 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, however, exposed several portions of Pennsylvania law where criminal actions are immunized from prosecution or conviction simply because they occur during, in the course of, or just in connection with a labor dispute.

In the near future I will be introducing legislation to eliminate these legal loopholes. Specifically this bill expressly repeals sect.2709(e), sect.2709.1(e), and sect.2715(c.2) of the Crimes Code, which provide an exception to the crimes of harassment, stalking, and threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction if the perpetrator is involved in a labor dispute as defined in the Labor Anti-Injunction Act. That means neither management nor union members can be charged with these crimes if they are presently engaged in a labor dispute. But I believe the criminal law ought to be applied evenly to all citizens – management and labor, those engaged in a labor dispute and those who are not – without the current exceptions. The only exception that my legislation will include is an exception for constitutionally protected activity.

It is the duty of the General Assembly to recognize the importance and necessity of fostering economic development and job creation and further to recognize that both employers and employees have rights governed by the National Labor Relations Act. However, employers, employees, management, labor organizations and their respective representatives and agents, all must exercise their rights so as not to commit criminal violations that can make the Commonwealth an unwelcoming and dangerous place for employer-employee relationships, harm existing businesses, or suppress job growth.

This legislation passed the House last session as HB 1154. Since that time, a federal grand jury indicted ten members of the Local Ironworkers #401 in Philadelphia for acts of arson, assault, and racketeering against non-union contractors and property owners. In each case, the grand jury found evidence of intimidation and threats toward the property owners and non-union workers which preceded the later acts of violence, all protected by these loopholes in the Crimes Code.

We should reform Pennsylvania’s criminal law to protect both union members and management alike from harassment, stalking and threats to use weapons of mass destruction. The time has come for Pennsylvania to stop condoning actions that would be illegal under any other circumstances simply because they are being performed in conjunction with a labor dispute.

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation.

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Introduced as HB874