Bill Ending Exemption Allowing Stalking, Harassment and Threats of Violence Heads to Senate

HARRISBURG – Highlighting a special state criminal code exception for business management and labor unions in the Commonwealth, the House voted to prohibit stalking, harassment and threats of violence for everyone, according to House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai.

By a vote of 115-74, House Bill 1154 passed the House and heads to the Senate for consideration.

“It’s time our anti-stalking and harassment laws apply to everyone, without exception, because it’s never acceptable to harass or intimidate people,” Turzai said.

“While most business managers and members of the labor community represent their business and trades effectively and honorably, there are some exceptions, and laws should protect all Pennsylvanians from stalking or threats from harm.

Employers have the right to manage their business, and unions have the right to collectively bargain and strike, Turzai said, but within the bounds of civil behavior.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s criminal code, Title 18, exempts management and organized labor from prosecution for harassment, stalking and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction. It is illegal to call in a bomb-scare, or stalk people or their kids, except if the caller or stalker is involved in a labor dispute.

This Criminal Code exception was recently brought to light by a Feb. 18 event; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested 10 members of Philadelphia Ironworkers Local 401, including union leadership, for aiding racketeering and arson and indicted them under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

According to the indictment, union members repeatedly threatened non-union construction employers with violence unless they hired a certain amount of union members. The indictment noted, violence was deeply ingrained in the structure of their organization.

By allowing intimidation, such as harassment, stalking and threats of violence, actual violence sometimes follows, as in the alleged Ironworkers crimes, Turzai noted.

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