This bill ― the Freedom from Union Violence Act― would close a loophole in current law that technically allows militant union members to commit acts of extortionate violence or sabotage so long as they are in the pursuit of “legitimate union objectives.” The loophole stems from the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Emmons, which held that the Hobbs Act doesn’t prohibit union violence under those circumstances.
What is House Bill H.R. 4422?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 4422
In-Depth: “Union violence is an ongoing problem, and it deserves no protection in federal law,” said the author Rep. Steve King (R-IA). “Because of the Supreme Court’s disastrous 1973 Emmons decision, striking thugs have license to engage in conduct against their employers and fellow employees which would be recognized as extortion in other contexts.”
King’s legislation seeks to close this loophole by amending the 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.
One recent example of such union violence occurred in Boston, as union operatives targeted the cast and crew of the popular reality cooking show, Top Chef, with harassment, violence, intimidation and derogatory threats. Ultimately the judge’s instructions to the jury, based on the Emmons precedent, let the perpetrators off the hook.
Introduced in November of 2017, this bill is currently in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
Summary by Lucas McConnell
(Photo Credit: grynold/istock)
Freedom From Union Violence Act of 2017
To amend section 1951 of title 18, United States Code (commonly known as the Hobbs Act), and for other purposes.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedNovember 16th, 2017
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