Justice for All

Sarina Rose counted on the justice system to punish the person who harassed her during a labor dispute. The system let her down. The Philadelphia Inquirer covered her ordeal last year:

When Rose spotted Sweeney on March 14 at the nearby Jany's Restaurant, she was not surprised to see him. But as she told Hayden during a nonjury trial in November, the union leader's actions that day left her unnerved.

As she headed toward the restroom, Sweeney cursed at her, loudly and repeatedly, calling her a scab and worse, she said. When a security guard attempted to intervene, Sweeney backed her against a counter and was soon joined by union colleagues.

“We were stuck in this tight restaurant, and they were yelling and surrounding us,” she recalled Wednesday. “It was definitely a bad situation.”

Rose escaped. But when she left her company's work site later that morning, she noticed Sweeney in her car mirror. His hand shaped like a gun, he pointed it at her and mouthed, “Bang, bang, bang,” she said.

Seeking justice, Rose pressed charges against Edward Sweeney, a longtime Ironworkers official. Little did she know a loophole in Pennsylvania Crimes Code would deny her the justice she sought. The judge dismissed the case specifically citing an exemption for harassment during a labor dispute.

Remarkably, anyone in a labor dispute can stalk, harass, or even threaten to use weapons of mass destruction against another person without punishment. But the absurdity of this injustice may finally be coming to an end.

Yesterday, lawmakers voted 107-91 to end the indefensible exemption and protect both workers and management from belligerent behavior.

The bill now heads to Gov. Wolf’s desk, giving him a golden opportunity to ensure Pennsylvania is a place where bullying and thuggery aren't tolerated by anyone against anyone.

Union and non-union workers alike deserve to know they will be protected under the law should someone seek to harm them.