American Experiment event celebrating free speech protected by police while police union protested outside
Monday September 17 was Constitution Day. We celebrated the 231st anniversary of our Constitutional Republic (Philadelphia, 1787) by rising to Ben Franklin’s challenge to “keep it” by talking about the Rule of Law and recognizing two heroes: Mark Janus and Rebecca Friedrichs.
Mr. Janus and Mrs. Friedrichs are the public employees who fought for and won the restoration of First Amendment rights for all public employees who can no longer be forced, as a condition of employment, to fund the political speech of unions (Janus v. Afscme). Collective bargaining has now been recognized by the Court as political because it affects taxes, spending and public policy. This landmark case is only a few months old; it will take years before we will know its full impact.
How many public employees will exercise their right to resign from the union? Will unions embrace the challenge by focusing on representing employees and less on divisive, left-wing politics?
The Center’s experience on Monday was not encouraging. We were warned that the Teamsters were planning to protest our lunch event; the hotel recommended extra security. So, in addition to the hotel security, which was excellent, we had to hire off-duty police officers to make sure our speakers and guests were both safe and able to hear to presentation. The officers were outstanding, of course.
(An aside, the Teamsters said on its website and social media that the Center’s lunch cost $300. It was actually $30.)
The Teamsters showed up as planned and brought a tractor trailer with them, emblazoned with the union name. (I wonder how most members feel about paying for that expensive truck?) While we were speaking, the semi drove around and around the hotel in downtown Minneapolis, at lunch hour, honking the rather loud horn. Fortunately, the honking stopped as an approaching thunderstorm cleared out the crowd.
The Teamsters made a video.
This experience raises many interesting questions. The Center was celebrating a Free Speech victory that affected 5 million public employees in twenty-two states. Right to Work is now the law of the land for public employees.
The Teamsters are certified under the law to represent police officers all over the state. The Center had to hire police to protect us while the Center and our guests exercised our right to gather and speak. We had to hire police to protect us from possible interruptions, or worse, from their union and protesters. When Mr. Janus, Mrs. Friedrichs and I left to go to my car, the police said we needed an escort because the parking garage was “a typical place for the union to show up.” Fortunately, nothing happened except a good conversation.
I think it is problematic that any American would have to hire security to protect themselves from any union but it is especially egregious that we had to hire security to protect us from a public-sector police union.