The anti-union rhetoric is in full effect in Tennessee during this legislative session, and IAFF members have fought to keep harmful legislation at bay that threatens their First Amendment rights.
Opponents of labor unions introduced a bill that would have made it a misdemeanor to “mass picket.” The bill would apply to any and all picketers.
The Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association (TPFFA) says the bill has numerous “unintended” consequences and many parts of it are outright unconstitutional.
The attorney general of Tennessee agreed, releasing an opinion in March saying the bill violated the First Amendment and could be pre-empted by national labor laws.
TPFFA has been fighting ludicrous legislation like this for years.
TPFFA says the proponents of the bill try to keep amending it, but only more issues arise.
Currently, the bill has been sent to summer study and has been taken off notice in the Senate.
“We’ve been able to change some of that stuff and get the language about unions and employee associations removed from legislation,” says TPFFA President Eddie Mitchell.
Two other bills that would place the terms "unions and employees associations" directly in the criminal code were also introduced in the Tennessee legislature. One bill would have expanded the offense of criminal trespass to include a prohibition against persons who are not employees of the property owner from conducting labor union activities on the property.
Another bill would have made certain activities related to labor and employment relationships unlawful. It would have basically criminalized any attempt by a union or employee association to gain anything from an employer outside of a collective bargaining agreement as extortion. After continued pressure by the TPFFA, the sponsor agreed to remove all references to labor unions and employees associations.