Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

In Case of Strike, Break Windows (and Hands)

A federal judge in New York is allowing construction company ALR to proceed with its racketeering lawsuit against Laborers Local 78, in spite of the union’s argument that a Supreme Court decision, United States v. Enmons, protects the local from extortion prosecution. Incredibly, that’s not an incredible argument — Enmons really does protect labor unions from being prosecuted for racketeering conducted in the course of a strike.

But this time, according to the Daily Labor Report (subscription required), activities like the following …

ALR alleged that over the course of almost two years, Local 78 business manager Edison Severino, union members, and unknown persons engaged in a campaign of violence and extortion aimed at forcing the corporation and its President George Kourkounakis to enter a collective bargaining agreement with the local.

ALR and its president alleged that one union member broke Kourkounakis’s hand, and that others attempted to run over Kourkounakis with a car. ALR’s vans and employees’ vehicles were vandalized, the company alleged, and an employee was menaced with a vehicle on a New York expressway. Kourkounakis’s house was hit with spray paint and bricks, the company alleged.

Evidence showed that the violence was aimed at forcing a union contract on the company, the plaintiffs alleged, citing threatening statements such as: “You should join the union” and “You just crossed the line by calling the police; I will investigate where you live and break your windows.”

… are not protected under Enmons because they weren’t part of a strike. Got that? You can break a man’s hand and attempt to run people over with no fear of an extortion charge … as long as it’s part of a strike.

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