DEROY MURDOCK: It's time to fight union thuggery Scripps Howard News Service Last Updated 12:02 p.m. PDT Thursday, June 5, 2003 (SH) - Armed militants advance their agenda by bombing their opponents' property, assaulting their persons and even attempting to murder them. This is a case for the Department of Homeland Security, right? Wrong. Though they sometimes resemble terrorists, these non-state actors enjoy legal protection. Federal law lets Big Labor zealots threaten and commit violence that promotes sanctioned union goals. In the 1973 U.S. v. Emmons case, the Supreme Court exempted unions from the 1946 Hobbs Anti-Extortion Act, which forbids the obstruction of interstate commerce through violence or blackmail. Thanks to the Emmons loophole, however, organized labor can escape federal Hobbs Act prosecution, provided its mayhem furthers "legitimate union objectives," such as higher wages. At least 15 states similarly shield labor brutality. Unions thus rain terror upon their enemies, primarily lawful strike-replacement workers and salaried staffers. Unfortunately, those who feel union muscle often remain unavenged. As Stan Greer of the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) explains, "the failure of overwhelmed or politically neutralized (local) police and prosecutors to enforce the law against union militants" leaves labor's victims hungry for justice. The institute has found that victims of union henchmen rarely get satisfaction in local, state or federal criminal courts. According to media accounts the institute has analyzed, 2,193 incidents of union violence occurred nationally between 1991 and 2001. Only 62 individuals were arrested and 10 people punished for these promised or actual attacks on people and property, yielding a reported conviction rate of just 0.45 percent. Events the media missed would boost these figures. Consider these examples: - Labor Ready manager Matthew Kahn directed replacement workers to Hollander Home Fashions after the UNITE textile union struck its Los Angeles plant in March of 2001. He was attacked in a parking lot in May of that year, suffering a concussion and multiply head lacerations. Charges were dropped against a union organizer arrested in the attack. -The Teamsters struck Overnite Transportation between October 1999 and October 2002. In Overnite's concurrent RICO lawsuit against the Teamsters, federal Judge Bernice Donald said that 55 shootings and additional brick and projectile attacks against Overnite's non-striking drivers were "related to attempted murder." Twenty-year Overnite employee William Wonder was shot in the abdomen while driving a company vehicle near Memphis on Dec. 1, 1999. "Overnite bears a heavy responsibility here," Teamsters president James Hoffa, Jr. said in a statement that seemingly capitalized on Wonder's near-fatal injuries. "Overnite can end this strike at a moment's notice with a binding agreement." No one yet has paid for shooting William Wonder. -As AK Steel's general counsel, David C. Horn, told the House Education and Workforce Committee last Sept. 26, negotiations with the United Steelworkers and AK's Mansfield, Ohio plant faltered in March, 1999. A company billboard soon sported a poster that read: "Wanted - good reliable small arms, unused explosives (C-4 preferred) names and addresses of all salary employees. Payback time!" On Dec. 6, 9 and 11, 1999, the home mailboxes of three salaried AK employees exploded. On the 11th, another bomb damaged a truck that indirectly supplied AK scrap metal, injuring Jamie King of Leesville, Ohio, then 22, who was asleep inside the vehicle. She temporarily ended up on crutches. After additional violence, a union representative anonymously told a reporter in July 2000: AK's "going to get somebody killed by not coming to the (negotiating) table." Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., has had enough of this. His Freedom from Union Violence Act (H.R. 1656) would end the Emmons exemption so the feds may prosecute labor hooligans who abandon peaceful union activism for intimidation and carnage. "One element of terrorism is instilling fear in the general public," Wilson says by phone. "This loophole instills fear in the workplace." Will compassionate Democrats help stop this savagery, or will they wink at the thuggery practiced by too many unionists? After all, labor gave Democrats $89,882,124 for the 2002 elections, vs. $6,441,332 to Republicans, reports the Center for Responsive Politics' opensecrets.org campaign finance database. A vote on Wilson's measure will show Americans which members of Congress still want federal officials to snooze while union hoodlums bust jaws and send blood spurting across picket lines. New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Va.