Law closes loophole allowing harassment in labor disputes

AP News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2015 5:17 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Newly signed legislation spurred by federal racketeering and arson charges against Philadelphia Ironworkers removes exceptions that allowed stalking and harassment during union disputes.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed it Thursday, despite opposition from most fellow Democrats in the Legislature. They warned that it could chill the free speech rights of union members.

The bill eliminates exceptions in current harassment and stalking law for labor disputes, but it keeps exemptions for "constitutionally protected activity." It also eliminates an exception for threatening to use weapons of mass destruction.

The Republican sponsor, Rep. Ron Marsico, says peaceful labor activity won't be affected and that labor disputes shouldn't be held to different standards.

The exceptions drew renewed attention after federal prosecutors charged some Philadelphia Ironworkers union members with vandalizing nonunion worksites and intimidating people. In one case, a Quaker meetinghouse was set on fire.