Sabotage, Stalking & Stealth Exemptions: Special State Laws for Labor Unions
For more than a century, labor law in the United States has been the source of numerous and often passionate debates about the role of unions in the workforce. Over the years, this has resulted in several significant changes in federal policy. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, the Taft-Hartleyact of 1947, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 represent significant federal legislation that has shaped the landscape for interactions among workers, employers, and unions.
While the federal government plays the leading role in the relationships among the three aforementioned groups, state governments also have the power to establish certain ground rules. This is particularly true for public employees, but state governments can also set labor policies in the private sector as long as they do not interfere with the scheme established by federal laws and regulations. One of the most obvious examples is the ability of the states to pass right-to-work laws, which 23 states now have done.
However, many state laws with regard to unions are not as well known or publicized as a right-to-work statute. Some of these state laws carve out a “labor” exemption from laws regulating conduct that would otherwise be considered criminal activity. For example, invading the home of a university professor would normally be considered trespassing, but remarkably, such behavior is not a crime in California if the trespasser is involved in union activities.