King Introduces “Freedom from Union Violence Act”
Legislation Closes Loophole Allowing Extortion, Violence, Sabotage by Union Members
Washington, D.C.- Congressman Steve King announces that he has introduced H.R. 4422, the “Freedom from Union Violence Act of 2017” (FUVA). The King legislation is designed to close a legal loophole that currently allows sabotage and other acts of extortionate violence to be committed by militant union members if such acts are conducted in the pursuit of “legitimate union objectives.” King’s legislation seeks to close this loophole by amending existing federal anti-racketeering legislation (the Hobbs Act) to impose a prison term of up to 20 years on anyone who “obstructs, delays, or affects commerce, by robbery or extortion, or attempts or conspires so to do, or commits or threatens physical violence to any person or property.”
“Union violence is an ongoing problem, and it deserves no protection in federal law,” said King. “Because of the Supreme Court’s disastrous 1973 Enmons decision, striking thugs have license to engage in conduct against their employers and fellow employees which would be recognized as extortion in other contexts. The ‘Freedom from Union Violence Act’ closes the loophole that the Supreme Court created and reaffirms that violence and threats of violence are illegitimate and have no place in workplace disputes.”
FUVA is a direct response to the United States Supreme Court’s holding in United States v. Enmons. In Enmons, three members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), targeted the property of their employer for destruction during a strike in which these same workers were demanding a new collective bargaining agreement. The violent acts of the IBEW members included: firing high powered rifles at company transformers; blowing up a company substation; and draining a company transformer of oil.
The Supreme Court’s 1973 Enmons ruling held that existing federal anti-racketeering legislation (the Hobbs Act) does not cover violent acts of extortion engaged in by union members in pursuit of “legitimate union objectives.” This led to the dismissal of federal charges brought against those who had engaged in sabotage in Enmons, and created a horrible loophole in which union members actually are protected from federal racketeering charges if they engage in extortion or other acts of violence against their employer or fellow workers.