Hector Barreto

After years of overreaching on contract negotiations and gouging businesses, union bosses are finally paying the price with both their power and membership diminishing. In the wake of the shifting landscape, some labor organizers are resorting to radical schemes to preserve a sense of relevancy. These tactics, which include stalking and harassment, produce an environment that is hostile to workers and employers.

The most recent example takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where a labor official was disgruntled because a company called Post Brothers used a mix of union and non-union workers to build apartments. The boss, named Edward Sweeney, escalated the situation beyond reasonable comprehension when he allegedly stalked and harassed Post Brothers executive Sarina Rose. In addition to dealing with daily protests at the company, Rose was subjected to union tradesmen “snapp[ing] photos of her children, 8 and 11, at their bus stop in Abington. They trailed her at weekend sporting events. One union leader loudly cursed at her in front of a packed restaurant and mimicked shooting her.”

This is simply beyond the pale. The actions taken against Rose are a gross violation of her rights and threatening, and yet it was all entirely legal. Pennsylvania is one of four states with a legal exemption that provides unions involved in labor disputes with protection from prosecution for stalking, harassment and terroristic threats. Sweeney easily walked away from the charges simply because it was the law of the commonwealth. To make matters worse, the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police argued to keep the law on the books as changing it would be too much of an inconvenience for them.

These legal carve outs certainly harm business representatives, like Rose, but it is also injurious to the broader community and state’s reputation. What business would willingly elect to place its employees in a state where harassment and stalking can occur with impunity? Employers should not have to be concerned about subjecting their employees to the kind of violence that occurred in Philadelphia. Sadly, this instance is not an anomaly or one-time aberration in union activity, but something of a trend in the Keystone State.


Hector Barreto

Hector V. Barreto is a nationally recognized businessman and community leader. He served five years as the Administrator of the U. S. Small Business Administration after being appointed by President George W. Bush and unanimously approved by the United States Senate on July 25, 2001