Stalking, harassment, threats during labor disputes up for debate in Pa. Senate

     Members of a local Ironworker union were arrested and charged with allegedly participating in 'acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property and assault' at the site of the the Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse in Chestnut Hill (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

    Members of a local Ironworker union were arrested and charged with allegedly participating in 'acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property and assault' at the site of the the Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse in Chestnut Hill (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

    A state proposal to change rules for unions involved in a labor dispute is on the fast track to becoming law. 

    Under state law, unions in Pennsylvania are allowed to harass, stalk, and threaten to use weapons of mass destruction if they’re involved in a labor dispute.

    Legislation that started as an effort to end that exemption now just kind of massages it.

     

    A Senate committee has approved changes to allow stalking and harassment if it is used in the pursuit of constitutionally-protected or legally-protected activity. Threats to use weapons of mass destruction would be the only thing explicitly not allowed, even by unions challenging an employer.

    Democratic state Senator Daylin Leach of Montgomery County said the measure strikes a balance.

    “A few people who emailed me said, ‘Oh we’ve got to pass this to stop unions from intimidating people,’ and I just want to clear that – this bill stops inappropriate conduct on both the part of unions and management.”

    Business groups have supported the measure, but a labor leader had objected that ending unions’ exemption would expose them to lawsuits for engaging in conduct legal under the Federal Labor Law.

    But supporters said the exemption allowing harassment and related offenses could give rise to behavior that’s actually criminal.

    The measure is expected to get final votes in the Senate and House by the end of next week.

    It comes in the wake of a federal indictment of a Philadelphia union that allegedly set fire to a building site to force a contractor to hire union workers.

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