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McDonald's worker Keyana McDowell, 20, (L) strikes outside McDonald's in Los Angeles, California, December 5, 2013. Organizers say fast food workers will strike in 100 U.S. cities, and there will be protests in 100 more, to fight for $15 an hour wages and
Tennessee Republicans want to target picket lines like this one.
It seems unions are having a little too much success in Tennessee for the comfort of Republicans there, so the state legislature is planning to do something about it. Spurred by the fact that Tennessee added 31,000 union members last year, state Rep. Jeremy Durham has introduced a bill that would create a new "mass picketing" misdemeanor specifically aimed at labor activists:
“I feel like if that’s such a growing part of our economy, we need to take preemptive measures to make sure our businesses have the rights and protections they should be entitled to.”

Violators would not be arrested, but they could receive citations. Opponents say the measure targets labor unions unconstitutionally, because it would not apply to political groups or other organizations.

Isn't that perfect? Republican legislators want to preemptively give businesses rights and protections by creating a punishment for union activists that doesn't exist for others. That is ... pretty much the Republican Party's view of the rights of business owners vs. the rights of union members in a nutshell, actually.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:19 PM PST.

Also republished by Three Star Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It would be interesting to see the proposed (4+ / 0-)

    language. Most cities and states have laws that prevent blocking driveways, sidewalks, and entrances and exits to buildings.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:26:33 PM PST

    •  Summary at the link (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, thanatokephaloides, TKO333

      This bill adds that it is a Class C misdemeanor for a person, without legal privilege, to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly engage in any form of mass picketing activity in the context of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute, in which the "mass picketing:"

      (1) Includes the stationing of a person representing an organization to apprise the public of the existence of a labor dispute which prevents an individual from the reasonable ingress to and egress from an entrance or exit, to or from any place of employment, but obstructing the ingress or egress with the person's own body or by placing a vehicle or other physical obstruction for such purpose;
      (2) Prevents the pursuit of any lawful work or employment by means of disturbance or nuisance;
      (3) Constitutes civil rights intimidation; or
      (4) Picketing a private residence and interferes, or with the intent on interfering, with the resident's right to quiet enjoyment, or where the picketing of the private residence has the effect of inciting violence or intimidation. However, this offense would not apply to private residences that are also places of employment and the targeted picketing in question relates to or is targeted at such employment.

      Frankly, it's hard to find fault with this bill.  Precisely which of these activities should it be legal to engage in?  The only one that's borderline is 1, but if somebody wants to cross a picket line, they shouldn't be physically prevented from doing so.

      •  What's wrong with the bill is (5+ / 0-)

        that it isn't being applied to everyone, targeting only unions.

        America is a COUNTRY, not a CORPORATION. She doesn't need a CEO. Vote Obama.

        by manneckdesign on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:49:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks dunsel for adding the specifics (3+ / 0-)

        I think most of these actions are likely already illegal. It will be interesting to see if it passes and what legal challenges are pursued.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:13:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Labor bill in TN (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ichibon, mcstowy

        From your comment it seems to me that denying people the right to picket for better wages and benefits since it is only targeting labor unions; for people who want a better wages to try and get out of poverty.
        All groups should that picket,no matter the cause should also come under this bill,not just labor.

      •  dunsel - you cherry picked language from the Bill (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mcstowy

        and after reading the entire Bill, not just what you cherrypicked, I disagree with your conclusion as this Bill PROHIBITS employees from using their "strike" as a means of a legal defense

        (c) It is no defense to prosecution that an organization or individual engages in mass picketing to further an objective in the context of a labor dispute.
        Also, the Bill damn near prohibits people from engaging in any form of a labor "strike"
        (d) A person commits an offense who, without legal privilege, intentionally, knowingly or recklessly engages in any form of mass picketing activity in the context of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute.
        Here is a portion of the language of the Bill you left out and that violates the Constitution and existing Federal Laws:
        BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:
         SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-307, is amended by designating the existing language of subsections (c) and (d) as subsections (j) and (k)
        and adding the following as new subsections (c) through (i):
         (c) It is no defense to prosecution that an organization or individual engages in mass picketing to further an objective in the context of a labor dispute.
         (d) A person commits an offense who, without legal privilege, intentionally, knowingly or recklessly engages in any form of mass picketing activity in the context of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute.
        •  Mass? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron

          The bill also clearly uses inflammatory language, defining mass picketing as "...a person...."  That's not remotely anything akin to "mass picketing."  A single person carrying a sign while walking on the sidewalk in front of McDonalds...saying nothing unless someone asks a question and allowing all others to freely use the sidewalk and enter the place of business...would be illegal.  I somehow doubt that's a reasonable balance in labor relations.  Face it, this is the GOP once again telling workers that they have no rights, and deserve even fewer.

      •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron

        even with your cherry-picked language.  All of the above should be protected as free speech.  

        On the other hand, wage theft should be a felony, and causing death by pollution, defective products or violation of work-safety laws should be a capital offense.

      •  I guess this anti-picketing bill will at least cut (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RightHeaded, dconrad

        on the number of picketers outside abortion clinics.

  •  Businesses spending millions of dollars in (7+ / 0-)

    misleading campaign ads? Free speech.

    Actual speech? Something businesses should be protected from.

    Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

    by Mike S on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:31:15 PM PST

    •  Mike - the speech is protected (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thanatokephaloides, Sparhawk

      I am not sure what the law covers that is not already against the law. No one has the right to block streets, driveways, sidewalks, or the entrances or exits to buildings, unless you have a permit. Even for political speech.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:15:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  VClib - number 1 & 2 violate Federal Laws (0+ / 0-)

        which grant employees the right to strike

        Also, number 3 is vague.

        Federal Laws allow employees, in mass, to picket and you are wrong about needing a "permit" to picket.

        •  You don't need a permit to picket (0+ / 0-)

          but you do need one to block streets, or sidewalks. You are  right that you need no permit to picket. However, when you picket you can't block the sidewalk, or impede pedestrian traffic, and you cannot block entrances or exits to buildings or driveways. Even though you have a picket line you have to allow easy access in and out of the driveways, entrances and exits to buildings.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 12:37:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think its a bad law (0+ / 0-)

          but I don't see any prohibition regarding strikes. A strike is when people withhold their labor and stop coming to work. It seems to me this bad law is only about on site actions, like picketing.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 12:41:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  simple solution (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lippythelion69, dconrad

      Have all pickets be sponsored by a church, or better a coalition of churches.  This should not be too hard.  Real churches support things like fair pay and good working conditions and the like.  Of course some churches do support killing workers for profit just like some churches supported slavery and some churches support discrimination in general.

      The point is that if the legislator see signs like 'followers of jesus for a higher minimum wage' and 'would jesus feed his followers fish that would kill them' and these religious persons getting arrested for expressing their religious views, I suspect their heads might explode.

  •  why don't they just include some funding to (7+ / 0-)

    hire some pinkertons.

    this country is off the rails.

    We are not broke, we are being robbed. ~Shop Kos Katalogue~

    by Glen The Plumber on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:34:40 PM PST

  •  I've warned you (2+ / 0-)

    Tennessee Gov. Haslam's name keeps coming up as an R presidential candidate.  He is Scott Walker-lite and this legislative move proves the atmosphere in the state.

  •  Businesses Have Rights? Chartered By the State (3+ / 0-)

    to exempt their owners from many kinds of liabilities and yet they have rights??

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:42:30 PM PST

    •  Love to have anti-corporatists take over (3+ / 0-)

      ...the Delaware legislature for long enough to repeal Delaware's corporation laws.

      That would be the progressive equivalent in reverse of what Scott Walker and the Republcans did to Wisconsin.

      50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

      by TarheelDem on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:53:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to mention Tennessee...n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thanatokephaloides

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:53:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  TarheelDem - Delaware, home to half the public (3+ / 0-)

        companies in the US, has too robust a cottage industry in the incorporation business for any legislator to be elected with the goal of killing the golden goose. It's not that Delaware has the most business friendly corporate laws. It's that there is such a expansive body of corporate statutory and cases law, and an expeditious court system for resolving corporate disputes, that it basically serves as the national center of corporate law. Every lawyer in the US who has a serious corporate law practice, at a minimum, knows the laws in their state and in Delaware. It is the common meeting ground for corporate America. It's a way for a company in Boston and one in San Francisco to have an agreement based on a body of law that the lawyers on both sides know thoroughly.

        My wish is that the Delaware legislature would pass a statute changing the fiduciary duty rule from one where the only party the officers and directors can represent is the long term interests of the shareholders to the Indiana standard that allows them to take into account not only the shareholders, but the employees, suppliers, customers, and communities.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:10:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly why I chose it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thanatokephaloides, Dirtandiron

          Like I said, the equivalent of labor-strong Wisconsin.  And you see what happened there.

          It's very interesting how we limit our vision of what is possible, isn't it.  Of course we don't have the deep pockets of the Koch brothers or the creative liars who develop their carpet bombing media.  But nonetheless, the word "realistically" even if correct limits our political thinking.

          50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

          by TarheelDem on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 03:34:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you missed my point (0+ / 0-)

            Companies, particularly public companies, aren't incorporated in Delaware because it has the most corporation friendly laws. It's because it has a comprehensive body of law that doesn't exist anywhere else in the US and a nationwide body of attorneys who know it cold. It seems impossible to me that the Delaware legislature would give us this very lucrative source of state revenue, and employment, knowing that numerous states would be pleased to step into its shoes and compete for the most corporate friendly state with laws much more favorable than Delaware.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 05:33:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Demand individual jury trials. (4+ / 0-)

    That, or just rip them up and dare them to bring the goons.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:55:52 PM PST

  •  This type of legislation will be creeping across (6+ / 0-)

    the red states, as it's like the Right to Work laws and forced reproductive laws, most probably drafted by ALEC.  The MI GOP legislature is going to bring up a similar bill any day now, but it has implications for all street activists and will require our militarized police forces to do the hard scuttle on groups that demonstrate.  This is insidious stuff and must be resisted at all costs.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 03:33:53 PM PST

  •  Tennessee..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, Dirtandiron

    ......Tennessee.....

    .... ain't no place I'd rather flee!!

    "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

    by thanatokephaloides on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 04:17:54 PM PST

  •  I seem to remember something... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devis1, ichibon, Dirtandiron
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    "If you're a talented person and you're not successful there is probably something inside of you that is stopping you from being successful, and sadly, it might be your talent." -Marc Maron

    by Nona D Above on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 06:23:40 PM PST

  •  What if picketing (5+ / 0-)

    is a result of someone's sincere religious beliefs?

    If you’re gonna love one, you’ve got to love ‘em all. --Rev. Will Campbell

    by fiddler crabby on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 07:20:48 PM PST

  •  REPUBLICAN CHRISTIANS HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR ... (3+ / 0-)

    Poor Southern people are to ignorant to vote for what is good for them and their families, Americans DO NOT have the guts to stick together. They will come to these thread boards and vent their anger, BUT collapse as soon as they walk out the front door. They'll drive to Walmart and shop, go to McDonald's and order, they'll leave it for the next guy to step up for what is right. February 11, 2014 how many people joined in on the internet boycott??, I DID!! The American People are COWARDS and SELFISH. 2014 elections will come and the Republicans will keep the house and just may take back the Senate, and you think it's bad now, just wait until after 2014 and 2016, even if Clinton is the first woman President.

    " ALL THAT YOU DO LET IT BE FOR THE GOOD OF ALL AND HURT NO ONE. IF YOU WANT TO BE GREAT AMONG THE HUMAN RACE .... LEARN TO HEAL."

  •  Why only apply it to the labor dispute context? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon

    Oohh. I see what they're thinking:
     What if the business is a women's health clinic and the picketers are "Right-to-lifers"? Now all their constituents are breaking the law.
    Or can forcing a woman to bear a child be termed a 'labor dispute'?

  •  I don't know enough law (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Nona D Above

    to understand all the results of this law, but in cases such as this, I use my longstanding rule:
    If it's proposed by a republican, it will hurt working people, or will try to prevent non-republicans from voting.
    My rule is if a republican likes it, I am against it.

    Severely Socialist 47283

    by ichibon on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 09:02:23 PM PST

  •  Piss off the Koch Whores in the Tea Party by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    supporting Unions

  •  WHY shouldn't this follow the rest? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    Why SHOULDN'T our right of peaceful assembly go down the drain with the rest of the post PATRIOT ACT destruction of our first amendment rights?  It has remained the target of the GOP elitists all along!

  •  Republican Nuremberg Laws (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    As the Republican and the White Christian Hate Industry continue their Crusade to enact Nuremburg type laws throughout the Country the Media remains quiet.

  •  Well, you know... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    ....picket lines are just unseemly.

    Misconduct by the government is by definition NOT a government secret.

    by Doug in SF on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:15:02 AM PST

  •  Sometimes it makes you wonder whether states (0+ / 0-)

    Legal representative should be sued for malpractice, or if their bosses just ignore them when they shout out that the laws their bosses are passing will end up in court costing the state millions to defend.

  •  Rules about mass protests (0+ / 0-)

    Should be the same for union picketers at a workplace and anti-abortion protesters at an abortion clinic.  You shouldn't allow union protesters to do things that you would ban pro-lifers from doing and you shouldn't ban abortion protesters from doing things that you want union supporters to be allowed to do.

  •  Sorry should have... (0+ / 0-)

    ....ended with the "rights of workers."  This is not about the rights of unions, but it all about the rights of businesses, that benefit from society vs. the right of workers that benefit business through there labor contribution.

  •  Section 7a of the National Labor Relations Act (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor, 6412093

    gives workers the right to picket.

    Federal law supercedes any state law.

    Game over.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:40:31 PM PST

  •  Despite the fantasy of (0+ / 0-)

    Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific, I believe actual flesh-type people are what's referred to in he right of the people peaceably to assemble.

    It really is time to kill that pernicious non-ruling once and for all.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:52:50 PM PST

  •  U.S. Constitution › First Amendment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, ZenTrainer
    First Amendment
    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Emphasis mine.
    •  Thanks, moody (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Moody Loner

      let's remember exactly what the Tenn. Repubs are attacking; our constitutional rights.

      I think I can probably predict who, among these commentors, have actually walked a union picket line (besides me).

      “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

      by 6412093 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:03:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  and it wouldn't withstand judicial scrutiny, right (0+ / 0-)

    out of the gate. there's both a 1A & 15A issue, that such legislation wouldn't clear. I assume their legal counsel has already advised them that such is the case, but they don't care, because it isn't their personal money that will be spent, defending this in court.

  •  Tennessee is just a godforsaken hellhole (0+ / 0-)

    Get the hell out. Period.

    "You can't run a country by a book of religion. Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." Frank Zappa

    by Uosdwis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 07:09:33 AM PST

  •  Both Dem and GOP attacks on Right to Assemble (0+ / 0-)

    disgust me.  I'm getting sick of these faux Constitutional protectors when they gleefully undermine a Constitutionally protected right to serve their own pro business agenda

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

    by ecostar on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:37:18 AM PST

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