Over 500 people “storm” private property, break windows and vandalize other property, wield baseball bats and crowbars, make death threats, and allegedly hold six guards hostage. Fifty law enforcement officers respond. U.S. Marshalls are placed on standby to enforce a related injunction issued by a federal judge.
It happened yesterday at a grain terminal at Port of Longview in southwest Washington State. The perpetrators? Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The local police chief was quoted as saying, “A lot of the protesters were telling us this is only the start.”
Not surprisingly, the incident didn’t garner much national attention. Imagine how the coverage by the so-called mainstream media would have differed had anything even remotely similar occurred at a gathering of people of a different political persuasion, say those Tea Party SOBs.
Union violence is not rare. The National Institute for Labor Relations (NILR) has collected over 9,000 reports of union violence since 1975 and the actual number is much higher–by as much as a factor of ten. Only a fraction of such offenses result in arrest and conviction.
On Monday, Teamsters Union president James Hoffa proudly declared, “The one thing about working people is we like a good fight.” (Fight, not good, being the operative word.). Echoing Hoffa, ILWU President Bob McEllrath said “It shouldn’t be a crime to fight for good jobs in America.”
The fight crowd has certain federal legal precedent on its side of the ring. According to NILR, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Enmons decision, among other factors, makes prosecution of union violence difficult. According to the Cato Institute, violence “deemed to be in furtherance of “legitimate” union objectives” is exempt from prosecution under federal anti-extortion laws. Offenders can be charged and prosecuted under state and other federal laws, but the scales of “justice” in such instances, just like our federal government’s overall pro-union rather than union-neutral stance, are tipped in favor of organized labor. Until that changes, we’ll get more of the rot such laws and regulations have wrought.