Orange County Register – Katie Packer Gage: Stalking exemption for Big Labor unfair

April 16, 2013 – Stalking exemption for Big Labor unfair California legislators must put their constituents ahead of a powerful special interest.

The first and most important responsibility of any elected official is to protect constituents. It is an unwritten rule, meaning it is so well understood and established that it need not be etched in stone. Yet ­ for some reason ­ this seems to be lost upon California’s representatives in Sacramento.

It is relatively unknown among the state’s citizens that the Legislature has actually passed a bill exempting union bosses and their organizers from prosecution when engaging in acts which fall under the stalking statute. If Big Labor’s actions take place during a labor dispute, California law has authorized them to stalk workers, their employers or families.

It is long known that union bosses have an outsized presence and influence in the Golden State, but no one should be provided license to harass and intimidate another person. Government’s primary role is to serve the interests of the public at large, not to give special treatment to one interest group.

But California does not stand alone. According to a recent report issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce titled, “Sabotage, Stalking & Stealth Exemptions: Special State Laws for Labor Unions,” Illinois, Nevada and Pennsylvania have also issued this carve out for organized labor. Forty-six other states have refused to sanction stalking during labor disputes, and it is past time they are joined by the Golden State.

According to the report, “The very existence of these exemptions calls attention to the fact that the tactics employed by unions in their organizing activities can inflict the same level of emotional distress and intimidation caused by a stalker. Harassment of opponents is often part of a union’s effort to confront adversaries and pressure them to give in to its demands, and stalking is one aspect of this behavior. Unions have been known to employ this tactic even against other … unions.”

Unfortunately, a pattern has developed among Big Labor bosses whereby they seek and receive immunity from the government to the detriment of employees and employers. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board has taken steps to sacrifice freedoms all Americans have earned in an effort to reward President Obama’s largest political contributor.

These callous and imprudent policies include approval of “quickie” or “ambush” elections, which allow an employer less than three weeks to respond to an effort to unionize a workplace. It places tremendous pressure on employees ensuring few will have the information necessary to make an informed decision affecting their livelihoods, whether or not to form a collective bargaining unit.

Next, President Barack Obama’s labor board has been considering electronic off-site voting, which is a form of computerized card check as it exposes an employee’s vote in a union election to the scrutiny of labor organizers. To make matters worse, the NLRB’s chairman, Mark Pearce, told a media outlet in 2012 that the so-called independent agency intended to “requir[e] businesses to hand over lists of employee phone numbers and emails to union leaders before an election.”

It would be wise for elected officials in Sacramento to demonstrate concern for their constituents, and eliminate the anti-stalking exemption for Big Labor bosses.

Katie Packer Gage is a spokeswoman for the Workforce Fairness Institute.

Copyright © 2013 Orange County Register. All Rights Reserved.

Featured Blog

AZ Daily Sun--Coconino Voices: PRO Act legislation would hurt local businesses

— 05.13.2021 —
By: Julie Pastrik Arizona businesses and workers have had an incredibly challenging year given the economic slowdown that followed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, local businesses and industries across the state are resilient and on the road to a strong recovery that will mean more jobs for Arizona workers and increased economic development to strengthen our communities. That is, as long as Congress does not move forward with potentially devastating legislation that would hurt local employers and employees alike while impeding our state’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, some members of Congress seem determined to do just that by pushing through the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. As harmless as the name may sound, the PRO Act would have serious repercussions for local businesses, particularly smaller ones, while undermining long-standing rights for employees and threatening the growing gig economy that has helped provide much-needed income for so many during this time. Arizona is fortunate to have leaders like Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both refrained from joining the vast majority of their Democratic colleagues in cosponsoring the PRO Act. In a slap in the face to Arizona workers, the PRO Act removes one of the most fundamental rights a worker has when it comes to voting in elections to determine whether to unionize: the secret ballot. Instead, workers could be forced to sign union authorization cards in front of other employees, their employer, or union organizers. This bill would also destroy workers’ right to privacy by allowing unions access to personal information, including their home address and personal phone number. If that doesn’t open the door to union intimidation and harassment, I don’t know what does. As if that was not bad enough, the PRO Act would create major new challenges for Arizona businesses, making it harder for them to create jobs, expand in their communities, and even keep their doors open. It would redefine what it means to be a “joint employer” under national labor law, greatly complicating existing relationships between franchisors and franchisees as well as between business owners, contractors, subcontractors, and vendors and suppliers. At the same time, it would interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it much more difficult for small businesses to secure a legal advice on labor issues. Particularly harmful during these times, the PRO Act would apply a failed policy from California to national labor law by using the “ABC” test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee. This makes it much harder to qualify as an independent contractor, threatening the freedom and flexibility that tens of thousands of Arizonans find in independent contracting and gig economy work. Ultimately, the PRO Act is bad public policy that only works for union leaders to inflate their falling ranks while threatening workers’ rights, undermining small businesses, and jeopardizing a growing part of our economy. This is not a good solution for Arizona, and Senators Sinema and Kelly should stay firm and not cosponsor this misguided legislation.
Read More