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Senator Vitter Follows Proud Tradition of Fighting Against Union Violence

On June 26, 2014, Senator Vitter introduced a bill S. 2535 to amend the federal extortion statute named the Hobbs Act. Senator Vitter is to be commended for addressing the scourge of union violence. Credit also goes to the original cosponsors: Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Burr (R-NC), Pat Roberts (R-KS), James Risch (R-ID), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Notably absent as original cosponsors were the original sponsors of the legislation in recent Congresses: Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL). The march will now commence to gain additional cosponsors for the legislation. In this 113th Congress on November 14, 2013, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a version of this bill, historically known as the “Freedom from Union Violence Act,” as section 3(f) of S. 1712. Also in this 113th Congress, Congressmen Paul Broun (R-GA) and Tom Price (R-GA) introduced versions of this legislation as H.R. 2021 and H.R. 3485, consecutively. Per the research (attached/below) by the WorkplaceChoice.org project of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Freedom from Union Violence Act has been bipartisan legislation introduced in no less than 88 different iterations over the course of 40 years—since immediately after the 1973 U.S. v. Enmons decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Enmons court wrote into the Hobbs Act an exception for unions—an exception found nowhere in the text of the act. In 1999 Senator Strom Thurmond said, “The Court could only create this loophole through a strained interpretation of the statute and a selective reading of its legislative history. In his dissent, Justice Douglas aptly criticized the majority for, ‘achieving by interpretation what those who were opposed to the Hobbs Act were unable to get Congress to do.’” The National Institute for Labor Relations Research reports, as of May 2013, that “[U]nion violence is responsible for at least 203 Americans deaths since 1975; 5,869 incidents of personal injury; and more than 6,435 incidents of vandalism and tens of millions of dollars in property damage… There have been over 12,000 incidents of union violence reported by American media since 1975. This figure is all the more appalling, given that studies show 80%-90% of violent union incidents that get reported to police are never reported in the media. That means there have been more than [6]0,000 incidents of union violence over the past 40 years.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation website reports, “The Hobbs Act was passed in 1946 as an amendment to the 1934 Anti-Racketeering Act. Both laws target labor racketeering and organized crime activities…” The Hobbs Act is codified at Title 18 United States Code Section 1951. To join the coalition of groups working against union violence, please contact Aloysius Hogan at 202-331-2254 or Aloysius.Hogan@cei.org.

Freedom from Union Violence Acts