The Topeka Capital Journal reported:
Kansas Republicans accused organized labor activists Thursday of forcing female legislators to endure sexually explicit and degrading comments while passing into the House chamber before a vote to end automatic deductions from paychecks for union political causes.
Democrats and a representative of the Kansas AFL-CIO disputed the GOP claims, and both sides pointed to video evidence to support their interpretation of events.
House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the vocal crowd crossed the line by engaging in salty commentary outside of the House chamber and by shouting inside the chamber when the paycheck bill came to a vote.
“There were comments of sexually explicit nature directed at both female legislators and female staff,” O’Neal said. “That’s the most disrespectful display from the gallery I’ve seen in 27 years I’ve been here.”
He said two union sympathizers attempted to intimidate a male House member into voting against the measure, which was passed 75-46 and forwarded to the Senate.
Now he says he may ban the offending union members from lobbying at the Statehouse.
KSNT has the Speaker’s statement about what happened:
More from Real Clear Politics:
Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal said Friday he is considering banning union lobbyists from the chamber’s gallery and legislative offices if they participated in a demonstration during a vote on a bill that would end paycheck deductions that finance labor groups’ political activities.
O’Neal said he and his staff are reviewing video of Thursday’s demonstration to see whether they can identify any registered lobbyists. It involved dozens of union members in the gallery shouting at House members to vote no before police and doorkeepers ordered them to leave and escorted them out.
The speaker, a Hutchinson Republican who supported the bill, also said he verified reports from at least six people that union protesters shouted obscenities at them and a lawmaker who claimed they tried to intimidate him to vote against the bill. Union leaders strongly dispute the allegations.
O’Neal called Thursday’s demonstration in the gallery “orchestrated.” At least one union lobbyist participated.
“This wasn’t, in my opinion a spontaneous show of emotion,” O’Neal said. “It was very, very well planned.”
O’Neal’s chief of staff, Rachelle Colombo, said Thursday that some union members shouted obscenities and vulgar sexual epithets at female GOP representatives and staff as they went in and out of a morning Republican caucus. The state GOP later issued a statement decrying the “street tactics” of “union thugs.”
O’Neal said Friday that one representative reported being surrounded by several protesters and feeling threatened by “the physical presence and the inflection of the voice.”
An AFL-CIO lobbyist said the union members were respectful and the Republican are the disrespectful ones for trying “to cast working people in that negative light”.
There is a video of the demonstration which O’Neal and his staff are reviewing to see if they can identify any registered lobbyists.
It allegedly involves dozens of union members in the gallery shouting at House members to vote no before police escorted them out.
I hope they release that video to the public. I for one would very much like to see it.
Here’s the press release about the union fracas at the Statehouse from the Kansas Republican party: Unions Bring Street Tactics to Kansas House Chamber
Defiant unions staged a protest in Topeka, Saturday:
As he stood Saturday afternoon on the south steps of the Statehouse during a rally of labor union supporters, Sen. Anthony Hensley wasted no time taking issue with comments made two days earlier by state Republican Party leaders.
“You don’t look like thugs,” Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said to cheers as he started his remarks. “You look like working-class people. You look like taxpayers. You look like Kansans.
Notice how he had no problem covering up for the thuggish union lobbyists?
Also speaking was Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, who said “the right-wing extremists that have come to the Capitol have opened up a full-frontal assault on the Kansas worker.”
He said Senate Bill 2130 “is nothing but a political protection act for right-wing extremists.”
When Davis says, “Kansas workers” does he mean non-union workers, too? And why always with the projection with these people? The vote ended deductions from paychecks to union political causes. That actually protects union rank and file who do not support the leadership’s “progressive” agenda. Unions are trying to protect their political power. Everything is about money and power to these people.
Davis also took a shot at Republicans for comments directed toward union members after Thursday’s House vote.
“The Republicans, after this bill passes, go out and call you a bunch of ‘union thugs,’” Davis told the crowd. “Shame on them. Shame, shame, shame.”
This is why that video needs to be made public. We’ll see who’s behaved shamefully.
Hat tip: Weasel Zippers