FBI agents arrested ten officials with Ironworkers Local 401 in Philadelphia on charges of racketeering amd arson that targeted contractors in the Philadelphia area who used non-union labor. Prosecutors claim that longtime Local 401 head Joseph 'Doc' Dougherty orchestrated a campaign of assaults and intimidation against business owners, contractors and laborers and projects using nonunion labor and sabotaging those projects.
According to the 49-page indictment, Dougherty, 72, coordinated the campaign of sabotage and extortion, urging members to picket, threaten, and destroy the property of contractors who ignored threats against hiring nonunion employees.
At the meetinghouse work site, prosecutors said, three union members cut steel beams and set fire to a crane in December 2012, setting the project back weeks and costing the contracting firm, E. Allen Reeves Inc. of Abington, more than $500,000.
At the time, Local 401 business agent Edward Sweeney told reporters that he knew nothing about the fire, saying only that he had asked the company to hire union workers.
Authorities said Tuesday that Sweeney ordered the attack.
Dougherty and others in the Ironworkers 401 were also politically active and enjoyed connections with state and local officials [all of whom likely knew of Local 401's violent tactics- NANESB!] to further their goals. While publicly disavowing violence as a negotiating tactic, members of the Local 401 reportedly referred to themselves as The Helpful Union Guys (i.e. THUGs) and promotion within the ranks was said to rely upon participation of attacks on nonunion workers at jobsites. The Ironworkers Local 401 also reportedly earned the ire of other area unions for 'poaching' lucrative contracts away from them.
Like in many labor strongholds, the tactics used by unions like the Ironworkers 401 were viewed as part of the status quo and the price of doing business in the city. In recent years, however, labor's influence in the Philly are has been on the wane. Beginning in 2012, a pair of Philadelphia-area developers began posting surveillance videos of union workers attacking contractors and nonunion workers from their jobsites online.
Instead of cowering or capitulating, the Pestronks used batteries of video cameras to record the activities of picketing union members, which they posted online at YouTube and a website they dubbed “phillybully.com.” And the effect was galvanic.
For many years, Building Trades has been criticized—usually in fearful whispers—for stifling development and economic growth, shutting out new investors, and undermining this city’s entire political process. But the videos shot and posted by the Pestronks provided something to go with all those allegations: evidence. Footage of leering, chuckling union men spitting profanities—so afraid of losing what they have, they can’t see what they’ve become.
Since the first videos went up in spring, the tide of public sentiment has turned, and the Pestronks won a court order restricting the picketers’ behavior
Investigators say that the 2012 Quaker meeting house jobsite sabotage involved intruders using torches cut through steel beams and torched a crane causing $500,000 in damages. Members of the Local 401 are also accused of smashing windows and slashing tires on the cars of contractors and nonunion workers, forming picket lines to block deliveries of equipment, throwing caltrops in front of vehicles, gluing locks shut and pouring oil in front of construction site entrances.
[Hat tip- Support Your Local Gunfighter; Friends of Ours]