Does the AFL-CIO support union violence? Trumka spokesman deflects question, blames Breitbart

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The AFL-CIO labor union appears, at least theoretically, to support violence and vandalism when union members use those tactics in the interest of furthering “legitimate union activity.”

Last week, top AFL-CIO lawyer Jonathan D. Newman attempted to file an amicus brief in federal court after local union officials in Buffalo, N.Y. were charged with several acts of violence.

The Buffalo News reports that members of Operating Engineers Local 17 are charged with pouring sand into construction vehicles’ engines, stabbing a company executive in the neck, tossing hot coffee at non-union workers and threatening to sexually assault the wife of a company representative.

“We’re not condoning the allegations or arguing that union officials are completely immune from prosecution,” Newman said. “Instead, we simply want to make sure that the [federal law] is not interpreted in a way that could have a chilling effect on legitimate union activity.”

While the AFL-CIO is not directly condoning the crimes alleged against the union members, its friend-of-the-court brief leans on the 1973 U.S. v. Enmons Supreme Court ruling which condones union violence as long as it is in the interest of “legitimate union activity.”

When The Daily Caller asked AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein if the union thinks the Supreme Court should revisit the Enmons case so union members and leaders would be treated equally under the law and could be prosecuted for violence and vandalism, Goldstein declined to answer. Instead, he deflected the question and turned it into an attack on conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart. (RELATED: Michigan’s Hoekstra turns around on ‘right to work,’ now supports it)

Goldstein asked: “Did you pursue the Breitbart comments at [sic] adamantly as you have this?”

Goldstein was referring to comments Breitbart recently made at a tea party gathering in Massachusetts. “I’m under attack all the time,” Breitbart said. “They call me gay, they’re vicious, there are death threats and everything. So, there are times where I’m not thinking as clearly as I should and in those unclear moments I’m always thinking to myself: ‘alright, first shot, bring it on.’ Because I know who’s on our side, and they know that.”

“They can only win a rhetorical and propaganda war, they cannot win. We outnumber them in this country and we have the guns,” Breitbart continued. “I’m not kidding. They talk a mean game but they will not cross that line because they know what they’re dealing with.”

Breitbart told TheDC that Goldstein’s attempt to connect his comments to a news story about unions participating in legalized violence was a good description of the very point he was making at the tea party event.

After noting inconsistencies in his argument, TheDC asked Goldstein again: Does the AFL-CIO think the Enmons case should be overturned so union members will no longer be immune from prosecution for violent crimes?

Again, Goldstein wouldn’t answer.

Breitbart told TheDC he’s not surprised. “I’ve been calling them [unions] out on my websites for years,” Breitbart said, adding that he thinks the unions should be held to the same standard as everyone else in America. “They’re thugs, union thugs.”

Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government adds that the AFL-CIO’s refusal to publicly disavow the Enmons case protecting violent union members by attempting to weigh in through an amicus brief shows where the union really stands.

“The AFL-CIO has shown their true colors by seeking to file an amicus brief protecting their members from charges resulting from a campaign of terror waged against an employer,” Manning said in an email.  It is time for the Supreme Court to revisit the Enmons decision and reverse it, in order to ensure that all people receive equal protection under the law whether they are union members or not.”

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