Monday, February 27, 2012

GA wants to make picketing a felony

Do these look like felons to you?
You read that right. Anti-worker state lawmakers in Georgia want to criminalize our basic right to freedom of speech. They're pushing a bill to impose a $10,000 fine or a year in prison or both for picketing.

Alternet has the story:
In a move that could impact non-labor groups engaged in direct action, picketing, or protest, Georgia's Senate Bill 469 includes felony penalties for "criminal trespass" and, unbelievably, "conspiracy to commit criminal trespass"--the punishment being a $10,000 fine or a year in jail, or possibly both. That this is specifically included in a bill that cracks down on organizations' right to picket outside a workplace or company seems to indicate that a union or other group engaged in picketing could be charged with a crime for the activity of one member who crosses the line.
And in the bill, the line is pretty nebulous. The bill has this to say about what would constitute "unlawful" picketing:
It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in mass picketing at or near any place, including private residences, where a labor dispute exists in such number or manner as to obstruct or interfere with or constitute a threat to obstruct or interfere with the entrance to or egress from any place of employment or the free and uninterrupted use of public roads, streets, highways, railroads, airports, or other ways of travel, transportation, or conveyance.
What's that mean? "Constitute a threat to obstruct or interfere with" could be interpreted pretty broadly, and leaves a lot of discretion up to police on the scene--or to business owners, who could have picketers removed by claiming they presented a "threat."
Every single sponsor of this bill is a member of ALEC, the corporate conspiracy funded by the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers to destroy what's left of the middle class. Read more about ALEC here.  Thursday, by the way, is a National Day of Action against ALEC. Look for a direct action near you!

Props to our brothers from Local 728, Eric Robertson and Jim Nichols, are spreading the word about this heinous bill.