Governor closes Pennsylvania’s union intimidation loophole

People involved in labor disputes in Pennsylvania are losing their free pass to stalk, harass or make threats to use weapons of mass destruction.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday signed legislation making all three activities a crime, even if they occur amid a standoff between union workers and their employers. As wild as it sounds, Pennsylvania state law provided an exemption for all those crimes, as long as they happened during a labor dispute.

“I believe it is important to allow men and women to come together and their voices heard,” Wolf said in a statement announcing he signed House Bill 874. “I also believe that any form of harassment by employees or employers is unacceptable.”

The law will take effect in 60 days, meaning the loophole will close in early January. Wolf’s signature marked a huge win for the Keystone Chapter of the Associated Building Contractors, whose members sometimes found they had no legal recourse even when union workers crossed the line during labor disputes.

In one case, a business owner couldn’t stop disgruntled labor officials from peppering his neighborhood — and his own home — with derogatory fliers. In another, a Philadelphia work site turned into a battle ground during a labor dispute, with union protestors accosting contractors and threatening others. One company official said union workers videotaped her children at sports events and threatened to shoot her.

“These loopholes have allowed for horrific activities disguised as legitimate labor disputes for years,” ABC Keystone President and CEO Kate McCaslin said. “Today, ABC applauds Governor Tom Wolf for signing this legislation into law that will provide for equal protection for employers and employees from hostile work environments.”

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