Ron Miller said that a 2012 US Chamber of Commerce study entitled “Sabotage, Stalking and Stealth Exemptions: Special State Law for Labor Unions” alerted him to the special union carve-out. Pennsylvania stands out in the study, but is certainly not alone. Illinois, California, Nevada, and Wisconsin have similar laws protecting bad actors.
The study notes that the Wisconsin Legislature found it necessary to explicitly state that the crime of sabotage cannot be construed in any way that would impair or curtail any labor organizing activities.
“There was certainly no shortage of anger during the contentious debate over union reforms in Wisconsin in 2011, and regrettably union members were alleged to have sabotaged equipment belonging to supporters of Governor Scott Walker,” the study says.
The study traces the carve-out language to a US Supreme Court 1973 decision [United States v. Enmons,U.S.396], that said that violence in the pursuit of union demands could not be prosecuted under federal law.
Miller said that the language was added to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code in 1993 as part of another piece of legislation that received little attention at the time, but has since stymied local law enforcement. “In some instances, police won’t write a report or investigate because they know the activity is protected,” Miller said. “My bill gives them the freedom to do their jobs.”