Unions Look to Stalk Their Way into Our Hearts. Don’t Try to Stop Them, Because You Can’t.

"You need to start showing our pensions some respect, Mr. Man!"Image from "Misery"Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason of Americans for Tax Reform are using Valentine’s Day to remind us that unions are powerful enough to get themselves exemptions from laws that protect citizens from stalkers in several states. Via Reuters:

Every state has made stalking a crime. These laws help protect people who might otherwise live in fear. Yet labor unions have successfully, and disconcertingly, lobbied to be exempt from anti-stalking laws in at least four states – California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Nevada.

“The most glaring examples of union favoritism under state laws,” notes a 2012 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, “tend to occur in criminal statutes and allow individuals who engage in truly objectionable behavior to avoid prosecution solely because they are participating in some form of labor activity.”

Pennsylvania unions now enjoy a loophole that the state’s anti-stalking law “shall not apply to conduct by a party to a labor dispute.” In Illinois, anti-stalking laws exempt “any controversy concerning wages, salaries, hours, working conditions or benefits … the making of collective bargaining agreements.”

Curious about the extent of these exemptions, I looked up California’s anti-stalking law, section 646.9 in the state’s penal code. Here’s how the act of stalking is described by the law:

Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison.

The law goes on to define “harassment” and “credible threat,” as these statutes tend to do, and calls for further penalties for repeated violations and enhanced punishment if the victim had already gotten a restraining order against the stalker. Then we get down to section (i):

This section shall not apply to conduct that occurs during labor picketing.

That is the entire section. There are no additional components to the law to try to separate the concept of protected protest speech from threats. In California, it is absolutely legal to threaten people with harm if you are engaged in in labor picketing.

Norquist and Gleason note the consequences:

The negative effects were clear in 2008, when United Food and Commercial Workers Union members picketed a new Ralph’s grocery store in Fresno. They went beyond traditional picketing, harassing customers and instigating confrontations with employees on store property. When store workers finally called the police, authorities refused to come and put a stop to the union’s disruptive behavior.

With the nation’s highest income and sales tax rates, in addition to many costly regulations, California is already one of the most difficult places to do business. Its exemptions permitting such behavior on the part of unions – which would be considered criminal for you or me – makes the state an even more inhospitable place to do business.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • R C Dean||

    In California, it is absolutely legal to threaten people with harm if you are engaged in in labor picketing.

    Picket lines during strikes are threats of violence. And if you are a scab trying to cross the line, frequently more than just threats. So this doesn't surprise me at all.

  • Gus||

    Someone should create a new union. Maybe a the Protesters Union. They would be legally permitted to stalk and threaten union officials and their immediate families.

  • Professional Target||

    The Union for Esthetic Deletions.
    Have a nice day. Or else.

  • RickC||

    Couple of weeks ago I caught part of some stupid tv show, the one with Marth Plimpton, I think. It did have one funny part where a woman's will, video taped, called for a non-profit to be created in her name with the sole purpose of ending all non-profits.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    When store workers finally called the police, authorities refused to come and put a stop to the union’s disruptive behavior.


  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Imagine that, the "brotherhood" wouldn't get in the way of union power. I think I may have just become aware of a vast amount of immunity I can exploit.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Shit like this is pushing me closer to agreeing with Episiarch's "no rule of law" belief.

    Can one really argue that we operate under the rule of law anymore?

    Shit like this is rule of man without question.

  • entropy||

    Hell no we don't have rule of law.

    How can people still think we have rule of law? Is David Gregory in jail? Are half the cops? Is Eric Holder?

    We have 3 felonies a day - we can't possibly have rule of law. Has to be selective enforcement. That's rule of the men in charge, nothing more or less.

  • pmains||

    Were you in part convinced by John Hasnas' essay?

  • entropy||

    No I've never seen that before but I'll check it out.

    I'm not sure what actually convinced me but the evidence has been piling up a while. And it's just getting worse and worse too. There are billions and billions of tiny examples everywhere.

    There are a lot of good ole patriotic myths I think we suffer from. It's just propaganda. There's no free market either (except the black market). The Soviets told themselves they had democracy and freedom, and the West was full of slaves.

  • entropy||

    Also, myth of having a constitutional government.

  • np||

    The problem is that all "law" today is really positive law, the complete opposite of natural or universal laws.

    Even if we did not have selective enforcement and went full blown Tulpa with 3+ felonies a day, we'd still be in a total shithole, all the while having "rule of (positive) law".

    That's one of the main points Bastiat makes in The Law. Note he uses the singular "The Law". He differentiated between legislation and what real law is.

    He didn't quite elucidate as well as some modern libertarian theorists, nor does he uses the term positive law, but that's what legislation is.

    We come up with various rules in our private lives. Perfectly fine in and of itself, since they are voluntary. In fact, notice how all these rules do not conform and would conflict if compared with one another (e.g. homes, workplaces, various properties, internet sites, etc). When rulers take these kinds of rules i.e. legislation, and make them compulsory within a geographic region, that's positive law.

    Even exceptions are part and parcel of "rule of (positive) law". After all, rulers make rules and these get turned into law.
    1+1=2, except on Tue and Thu when done by X,Y,Z then 1+1=3.
    - That's also "rule of law"

  • np||

    In fact even the complement of that--narrow targeting--is very problematic. That is part of the reason how we get the 3 felonies a day phenomenon. A particular law doesn't affect a great many people, so they can get away with passing some severe injustice.

    When you accumulate enough of these narrowly scoped laws, you can build up a warchest of severe laws good for quick prosecutions, because despite each individual law not affecting most people, there will always be some law you can use to throw at anyone, anytime, anywhere.

  • entropy||

    Well, that's the value of having the most equality under the law as you can get. That Hasnas essay is very interesting and makes a lot of good points, but he may be wrong to say we shouldn't want to make law as determinate as possible.

    He claims this is bad because the law doesn't please people or serve the public sense of justice as well. But if you recognize the law as a problem and want to minimize the abuse, that's not a bug. If all must be subjected to every law equally, you may find much less appetite for silly laws.

  • ||

    Outstanding link; thanks.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Great link but I think there's a glaring whole in the proposal. While I can see the free market legal services thing working in areas of voluntary association like contract law, I'm not sure how it works in areas of involuntary association. If I see my neighbor walking off with my TV and I contact my legal services provider to get him tried for theft, but his legal services provider says that it doesn't recognize my ownership of the TV and therefore it was okay for him to take the abandoned TV, who wins? And isn't that winner essentially forcing their law on the other party?

  • Sevo||

    "but his legal services provider says that it doesn't recognize my ownership of the TV and therefore it was okay for him to take the abandoned TV,"

    Joke, right?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Did you read the essay? It was proposing that there should be no universal system of laws, and anyone could purchase a legal system reflecting his particular taste. There's no guarnatee that my neighbor's taste would recognize my property rights.

  • RFID||

    Well then your legal services provider will send a group of burly men pover to box the thief's ears! But then their provider will send a group of men to defend him...and then there would be a fight. Except there would be no fight and no burly men, as violence is the most expensive and least efficient method of solving that dispute.

    They would work it out like any other private entities would. Those companies enjoy profits and will choose the path of least resistance to get it.

  • entropy||

    That's kind of assinine as it applies to criminal law. I would say by definition these are people who do not feel the need to negotiate with me, nor would I them.

    I will tell you plainly, in a world without cops if you steal my TV, I will not work with you to settle the dispute in a reasonable fashion.

  • RFID||

    What if it was financially in your best interest to let the DROs sort it out without violence?

  • entropy||

    There is no homo economicus. That isn't going to be enough to sort it all out.

    Especially in the case of repeat offenses (and repeat offenders). I don't want a payoff, I would want to be sure you are properly conditioned to associate my house with pain and/or death so it doesn't happen again.

    The value of the TV isn't the point, it's the violation of my security. That's worth a lot more than a TV and you can't put a price on a pound of flesh. If someone rapes you you might not want a payout, you might just want them dead.

    And really, I think this overstates the universal opposition to senseless violence. Not everyone is as down on violence. There are people who will want you beat up and killed because you hired someone else, or won't cut down your tree.

  • ||

    Don't worry, dude, I'm patient. You'll come around. Because it's absolutely true.

    Rule of man, bitches.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Can one really argue that we operate under the rule of law anymore?

    What makes you think that rule of law was ever anything other than complete bullshit?

  • Virginian||

    Holy shit. I mean I figured the unionized cops were just looking the other way, but I never would have expected that it's actually codified into law that a union member can stalk someone and that's ok as long as the person he's stalking is his boss.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Defend this, Tony.

    Haha, you won't turn up here.

  • Sudden||

    Yada Yada Yada Pinkertons bullshit bullshit bullshit 1%ers.

    /spacey tony

  • Sevo||

    "Yada Yada Yada Pinkertons bullshit bullshit bullshit 1%ers."

    The fact is the Pinkertons were attacked by the union thugs at Homestead.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    So during "labor picketing," you can "willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follow[] or willfully and maliciously harass[] another person and...make[] a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family"?


  • sloopyinca||

    I am surprised by the amount of surprise so far in the comments. Hell I'd have been shocked if this wasn't codified in these four states. As a matter of fact, I'd be willing to bet the legislators in New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Ohio are furiously working on legislation to get this loophole put in place.*

    *And then be sure to include their endorsement of it in their fund-raising literature.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Everyday I come here I realize I am in a lower caste than I thought I was yesterday.

  • sloopyinca||

    Here, this will make you feel even worse.

    Apparently, in Kettering Ohio, if you're a policeman and are convicted of assault, you not only will keep your job, you'll get a 2 month paid vacation for your trouble.

    Suck on that, peon!

  • Sudden||

    It's almost like they encourage this sort of behavior. I've been dying to take a trip to Scotland for some time and taste Ardbeg at the distillery. I should become a cop, fuck someone up, and get my two month dream vacation bill footed by the same lowly peon that I beat half to death with my maglight.

  • ||

    jesus christ, the ignorant whining

    he hasn't BEEN punished by the dept. yet, because as is the case in most agencies (see: chinese wall etc.) they do not mete out dept. punishment until after the criminal case is fully settled.

    the leave is and should be admin during the court case.

    the implication is you are assuming he will not be punished by the dept., which is a stupid assumption. again, it will happen , if it does, after the criminal trial is completed.

  • ||

    He was found guilty; why isn't that enough for the PD?

  • ||

    right, and i will bet ANY amount of anything that he WILL be punished by the dept., but the criminal case was just adjudicated. the civil /dept. case has to be put on hold during the criminal trial, because it can poison the criminal case if done improperly (since civil/dept. stuff can be compelled and criminal stuff can't under the 5th amendment)

    like i said, i will bet anybody he WILL be punished by the dept. this is just sloopy stupidity. equating admin leave, with some sort of fantasy that THAT is his punishment and he is escaping real punishment from his agency.

    he was only found guilty a few weeks ago (jan 23) AND TO QUOTE:
    “At this point, the situation is still under investigation,” Schwieterman said.

    sloopy is simply lying. he has no idea if the guy will keep his job, and he's conflating admin leave (which is done during the investigative phase, NOT the punitive stage) with punishment.

    it's either a complete lie or an amazing lack of understanding of how dept's do discipline.

    it is VERY rare, when a criminal case is going to happen, for dept. to discipline prior to the case being adjudicated AND USUALLY sentenced (this case hasn't been sentenced yet)

    so, there is no "there" here. it's simply a par for the course investigation, and again, i will BET sloopy that this guy gets punished by his dept with unpaid leave (iow suspension) at a minimum if not outright dismissal.

  • ||

    again, to make this exquisitely clear, i challenge sloopy or anybody else: this man WILL be punished by his dept. at a minimum unpaid suspension, at a maximum dismissal.

    if he got away with no punishment from the dept. given an assault convictio that would be an amazing miscarriage of justice, but it's simply not what has happened.

  • ||

    also, once the criminal case is over, the dept. can compel all the statements they want from him (he has no right to remain silent since it's not a criminal investigation), and also investigate and incorporate various types of evidence that would not be admissible in the criminal trial (certain forms of hearsay for example, evidence that doesn't meet the frye standard or whatever that state relies on, etc.)

    in his ignorance, sloopy prints an article about discipline being done CORRECTLY (waiting for the criminal trial) as some sort of false claim that no discipline is being meted out. it's really typical of his dishonesty

  • ||

    What I don't get is this "investigation" by the PD. He was found guilty in a competent court of law; the PD supposed to sanction him for being found guilty, not separately and independently for the crime he committed (that sounds like double jeopardy, anyway).

  • ||

    the PD can sanction for various policy violations IN ADDITION to the crime itself. the pd can incorporate various forms of evidence the criminal trial cannot. the PD can compel he provide a statement. the criminal trial cannot. and it's not double jeopardy to punish him for the assault because no "jeopardy" attaches in dept. discipline (jeopardy is defined as threat of imprisonment).

    the PD *is* doing an investigation, and i will bet with 99% certainty they WILL punish him. he was arrested, he pled no contest, he was found guilty. that alone will be enough for punishment, but agaim,t he dept. can NOW incorporate all that into THEIR investigation.

    ofc's are often investigated in this bifurcated manner, and this is how you do it - the criminal trial comes first. this is BASIC common sense, as well as due process, labor law, etc.

    again, wait to see. come back and check in a couple of months and i GUARANTEE you will see i am right and he will be punished by the dept.

    again, he was JUST found guilty (the 23rd iirc) and he hasn't even been sentenced yet. it's HARDLY justice delayed.

  • ||

    (jeopardy is defined as threat of imprisonment)

    Defined by whom? Where?

    ofc's are often investigated in this bifurcated manner

    This is what I fail to see the point of where there is a criminal conviction. I could see it happening when there's no criminal charge or there's an acquittal at trial; ie. that the officer isn't guilty of a crime, but still violated departmental policy. But a criminal conviction states clearly that the officer committed the criminal act in question: if that act violates departmental policy, there's no need for further investigation.

  • ||

    jeopardy is defined that way in any legal dictionary, and it is what is meant by "double jeopardy"

    you may fail to see the point, but the dept. sees the point of due process meaning they will investigate and see what POLICIES were violated in addition to laws, because then a proper punishment can be meted out. they can take as gospel the criminal trial, but there may be additional violations of dept. policy etc. that need to be investigated so a FULL account can be made.

    i have never seen an example where there WAS a criminal conviction of the agency not finding concurrent dept. violation fwiw. but often, they find MORE violations than the mere assault. these are policy violations that are not criminal (usually), but can still be punished.

    that's about as much as i can say on this. as usual, it's another sloopy lie (he can;'t be this ignorant).

  • ||

    jeopardy is defined that way in any legal dictionary

    No it isn't:

    jeopardy n. peril, particularly danger of being charged with or convicted of a particular crime.


    the dept. sees the point of due process

    You mean the criminal process leading to conviction is in denial of due process?

    they will investigate and see what POLICIES were violated in addition to laws

    For example the POLICY of not getting convicted in a criminal trial?

  • ||

    What due process are they due if they've already been found guilty in a criminal court of law? Sounds like sketchy bullshit to me.

    And why the fuck do you deserve paid admin leave? If one of my buildings fails and kills or injures someone I'm sure as shit not getting paid admin leave. (I'd be fine with admin leave, pending investigation or conviction, if it was unpaid. You can always receive back pay if you're found innocent.)

  • playa manhattan||

    So, how can I form a union for the express purpose of stalking progressives?

  • playa manhattan||

    P.S. I consider the government taking a portion of my money to be a "labor dispute", and the union will consist of all such people in the same situation...

  • Sudden||

    I am intrigued and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Brandon||

    Are the dues for this union tax-deductible?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    You don't even have to do that. Just demand a progressive hire you to read Hit and Run for them for $500/week. If they refuse to hire you, voila, you're now in a labor dispute with them.

  • playa manhattan||

    Union vice chairman and co-founder Stormy Dragon is correct.

  • Sudden||

    Warty's Mind Right Now:

    1. Organize a union
    2. Become exempt from anti-stalking laws
    3. ???
    4. ProfitRape!

  • playa manhattan||

    OK, I'm willing to be a big tent kind of guy. We can be an anti-tax union and a rapists union.

  • ||

    "She fell out the back of the van!"

  • ||

    Orwell's Animal Farm ought to be required reading in HS... nah, wouldn't make any difference.

  • ||

    I think it's required reading in 7th grade in a number of private curricula.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Unfortunately some people read Animal Farm and identify with the head pigs. To them "some animals are more equal than others" id a good thing.

  • ||

    That assumes that anyone actually reads the books they're assigned. Most read the questions for their assignment and go through and find the correct answers. It's an efficient way to work, but reading comprehension suffers.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Animal Farm was Junior High. In High School we read The Fountainhead

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Don't lie. You had "Go, Dog, Go" in high school.

  • General Butt Naked||

    After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore are the best qualified to run the farm -- in fact there couldn't have been an Animal Farm without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.

    What T.S. Eliot said about Animal Farm. I believe this is the new consensus.

  • Rhywun||

    It was required in my public school, circa the mid '80s.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    If we read the law literally, this means that management can threaten to harm picketers, too. Right?

    So the store managers could have hired manservants to go out to the picket lines and ask the picketers want to be force fed their own balls with ketchup or mustard.

  • playa manhattan||

    CA law says "This section shall not apply to conduct that occurs during labor picketing". Doesn't say by whom.

    During the Ralph's/Kroger strike, my wife and I crossed the picket line to pick up her prescription from the pharmacy, and one of the guys walked up to us with a smirk and said something like "You shouldn't cross the picket line. We can't guarantee your wife's safety if you guys cross." After this exchange, I had no interest in threatening to punch him in the face. What I really wanted to do was actually punch him in the face, so the law didn't really help me in that situation....

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That's funny(not). Almost exactly the same thing happened to my wife and I during that same strike. Almost like it was an organized tactic of the cocksuckers. Anyway, I told the pos "I'll shiv anyone that touches her" and they chickenshits never said a word to us again.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    And remember. These are the very same people that would then turn around and tell us that no one needs to carry a gun.

    It's no wonder that progressives are anti-gun. They want to ensure that they can attack anyone without the fear that said attackee can't reasonably defend himself against a mob.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    What did I say? No Tony. Even though it is heavy in the Big Tobacco thread.

  • The Derider||

    "In California, it is absolutely legal to threaten people with harm if you are engaged in in labor picketing."

    Strikes unlawful because of misconduct of strikers. Strikers who engage in serious misconduct in the course of a strike may be refused reinstatement to their former jobs. This applies to both economic strikers and unfair labor practice strikers. Serious misconduct has been held to include, among other things, violence and threats of violence. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a “sitdown” strike, when employees simply stay in the plant and refuse to work, thus depriving the owner of property, is not protected by the law. Examples of serious misconduct that could cause the employees involved to lose their right to reinstatement are:

    Strikers physically blocking persons from entering or leaving a struck plant.
    Strikers threatening violence against nonstriking employees.
    Strikers attacking management representatives.


    In short-- harassing patrons and threatening violence will get your strike declared illegal, at which point all California statutes apply to your behavior.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "harassing patrons and threatening violence will get your strike declared illegal"

    Or should, anyway. Now explain the exceptions, shithead.

  • ||

    hahahahahaaha he quotes the national labor relations board...AAAAHAHAHAHAHA

  • ||

    And mysteriously, this never happens.

  • Killazontherun||

    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Ought to be burnt into the brains of every goddamned union member and legislature in the country with a motherfucking soldering iron.

    Ought to be burnt into the brains and

  • Killazontherun||

    Only wrote that once. Weird.

  • Erik Jay||

    Hey, every time I log in I get the red "click here to view your arrest record now" banner. I'll show you mine, etc., etc.

    Now, enough of that nonsense there and on to this much more important nonsense right here: Has anyone looked into case law and other legal palaver on this? If that section (i) was cited in full, I don't see that the franchise is extended narrowly, but broadly. There's picketing going on? All right, I'm going to go threaten some sign-carrier... from an ultralight or APC or accompanied by, well... anybody up for confrontation?

    On third thought -- jeez it was hard to resist! -- I don't think I am up for it myself. The "path of least resistance" comment earlier was right on target and right on time, balanced of course by a realistic assessment of the parties involved and their capacity (and willingness) to adapt. Common sense and world history would seem to indicate that contending with the world and its vagaries is best done from a position of strength.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.