Federal Labor Law Enabled ‘JohnnyDoc’

In 2020, Johnny Doc was recorded threatening to “beat up,” “run over,” and “put under water” any rank-and-filers who cooperated with federal prosecutors. But he still publicly claims to be all about helping workers!
In 2020, Johnny Doc was recorded threatening to “beat up,” “run over,” and “put under water” any rank-and-filers who cooperated with federal prosecutors. But he still publicly claims to be all about helping workers! (Credit: Channel 3 News (CBS))

Forced Dues-Laden Treasury Was Union Dons’ ‘Personal Piggy Bank’

For years and years, it was an open secret that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 Business Manager John Dougherty and his cohorts were using their union’s forced dues-laden treasury to treat themselves, their relatives, and their political cronies to an array of luxuries.

Finally, in the summer of 2016, FBI agents searched Mr. Dougherty’s home, as well as a number of Local 98 offices and building sites.

But no arrests came, and the Local 98 hierarchy continued to wield extraordinary power over commercial construction jobs in the City of Brotherly Love and act as an electoral kingmaker in local, state and federal politics.

Guilty on 33 Embezzlement Counts, 24 Wire Fraud Counts, Seven False-Filing Counts

At last, on January 30, 2019, Mr. Dougherty (widely referred to as “Johnny Doc”) was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with embezzlement, bribery and theft.

But even a detailed federal indictment laying out how Johnny Doc had bribed a city councilman, and he and his coconspirators had stolen more than $600,000 in union funds, primarily workers’ forced dues, was insufficient to dislodge the crooked cabal running Local 98.

Top bosses of the international union evidently saw no need to file charges against Mr. Dougherty or three other Local 98 officials who had been indicted, or to take any other action to remove them from power. And ordinary workers were, as a practical matter, unable to do so.

Consequently, Johnny Doc remained at the helm of Local 98 for almost three more years, until he was finally forced to step down in November 2021 after a federal jury had found him guilty on eight bribery-related counts of conspiracy and honest services fraud.

At the end of last year, he was found guilty again, as another federal jury convicted Johnny Doc and former Local 98 President Brian Burrows of looting the union. (The local’s former political and apprentice training-fund directors and two former staff members had already pleaded guilty to related crimes.)

Johnny Doc was personally found guilty December 7 on one count of conspiracy to embezzle Local 98 funds, 33 embezzlement counts, 24 wire fraud counts, and seven counts of filing false returns to the U.S. Labor Department and the IRS.

Monopolistic UnionismIs the Real Problem

The loot was spent on no-show jobs for relatives and other cronies of Local 98 bosses, multi-hundred-dollar restaurant meals, rock concert and sports tickets, and innumerable retail purchases ranging from big-screen TVs to baby supplies to LuckyCharms cereal.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen commented:

“When honest, hard-working Americans read about the escapades of shady union bosses like Johnny Doc and Brian Burrows, they may ask themselves why such individuals opt so frequently to become union officials.

“Government-authorized monopoly bargaining, which makes unionized business employees in all 50 states almost completely dependent on Big Labor for their job security and pay increases, is one of the two principal reasons why unscrupulous people are especially drawn to careers as union bosses.

“Compulsory union dues and fees as a condition of employment are the second key source of union corruption.

“Without them, corruption would probably be no more common in labor unions than it is in other kinds of private organizations.

“It is the Right to Work Committee’s longstanding objective to eliminate both of the pillars of monopolistic unionism.

“And strategically, Right to Work officers and members recognize that revocation of the provisions in federal law that authorize the firing of employees for refusal to bankroll an unwanted union will pave the way for elimination of Big Labor’s monopoly-bargaining privileges.”

This winter, the Committee is fighting to secure roll-call floor votes on H.R.1200 and S.532, otherwise known as the National Right to Work Act.

Once this legislation is enacted, no employees covered by federal labor statutes will face job loss as a consequence of their decision to refuse to pay dues or fees to a union they would never join voluntarily.

“Passage of H.R.1200/S.532 would strike a powerful blow against union corruption by empowering the individual employee to cut off all dues payments completely as soon as he or she has reason to suspect union treasury and/or benefit funds aren’t being spent properly,” explained Mr. Leen.

“While it is not in itself a total solution, this legislation would go a long way in helping American employees hold Big Labor accountable for how workers’ dues money is spent.”

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

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