The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts AFL-CIO has filed a friend of the court brief seeking to have the indictment of five members of the Teamsters Union in Boston dismissed. The Teamsters members are facing federal charges that they extorted non-union contractors and owners that employed non-union contractors. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO is arguing that under the Supreme Court’s 1972 decision in U.S. v. Enmons the Teamsters alleged conduct was in furtherance of a legitimate union objective and, therefore, no illegal.
The move is a Hail Mary for unions. Under Enmons, unions used to enjoy broad immunity from criminal prosecution for activities that would land anyone else in jail. However, Federal Courts have repeatedly walked back the breadth of Enmons and recent prosecutions in New York and Pennsylvania show that Enmons does not provide unions protection from extortion claims when they seek to intimidate non-union contractors and real estate developers into giving work to union affiliate firms.
We should expect a decision from the federal court in Boston in a few months. Hopefully, the court reaches the same result as the courts in New York and Pennsylvania.