Each Labor Day we pay tribute to American workers who have contributed to the strength and prosperity of our nation. Millions of Pennsylvanians enjoy the day spending time with their families at cookouts, festivals and shopping. It’s the American Dream.
While most Americans relish a day away from the worksite, small business owners get their satisfaction running their own little companies. For these entrepreneurs the pride that comes from creating their own business is the ultimate image of the American Dream.
Most small business owners point with pride to their ability to offer quality products, along with the relationships they enjoy with their employees. These entrepreneurs know that a happy workplace is a healthy workplace. And they know that the best way to attract and retain good workers is to treat them right.
If only every work-site could operate this way. Unfortunately, a decades old Pennsylvania law perpetuates a state of unrest in the workplace and beyond by shielding union activists from prosecution when harassment, stalking, or the use of deadly threats occurs during a labor dispute.
In August, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from small business owners who were shot at, threatened and had their worksites damaged by explosions and arson. Lawmakers heard about worker’s children being followed and videotaped at their bus stops or sports events. They listened to stories about neighbors receiving flyers on their doorsteps, tacks left in private driveways to flatten tires, vandalism and verbal abuse.
All of the victims of this thuggery own or work for merit shop construction companies that don’t use union labor. The witnesses came to Harrisburg to ask that union members, or any party involved in a labor dispute, no longer be exempt from the state’s criminal laws against stalking, harassment and using a weapon of mass destruction. It’s hard to believe anyone is exempt from criminal laws. There should be no exemptions!
The committee was told that police do suspect a union member in the explosion and arson last December at a Quaker meeting house that was under construction in Philadelphia. The construction company owner says his family business has dealt with union brutes for decades and he received a threat right beforehand when he wouldn’t hire union labor. Ironically the Quakers were building a gathering house promote peace.
A couple that owns a merit construction shop near Reading say police questioned and released two union members in their quiet residential neighborhood handing out leaflets that attacked their character. For nine months those flyers called the couple selfish, ruthless and claimed they underpay their workers, even though the company was named among the top one hundred employers by a local newspaper. The couple posted a sign against trespassing in their yard, installed video cameras and hired a lawyer to file injunctions. But what they call harassment is considered accepted free speech if it involves a labor dispute.
Perhaps the most egregious testimony regards the children of contractors and employees being followed and videotaped by union members. A mother who works for a construction company in Philadelphia asked what would happen if it were a pedophile instead following her children around with a camera.
Labor Day is a holiday to honor workers for their contribution, but not to sanction union bullies when their behavior has crossed the line. It’s time for Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to step up and protect all workers in Pennsylvania