Philadelphia Union Officials Simply Admit It Is?
For years and
years, federal investigators have been watching while International Brotherhood
of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 Business Manager John Dougherty and his
cohorts seemed to use their union’s forced dues-laden treasury as their
personal piggy bank.
years ago, 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.
Philadelphia citizens had ample reason to suspect that Mr. Dougherty, widely
referred to as “Johnny Doc,” and other shady construction union kingpins in
eastern Pennsylvania were still above the law — until a few weeks ago.
Alleges Johnny Doc, Associates Stole More Than $600,000 in Union Funds
On January 30,
Johnny Doc and five other Local 98 officers and staff members were charged in
the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with
embezzlement, bribery and theft.
Also charged in the
116-count federal indictment were Bobby Henon, a former Local 98 operative who
has remained on the union payroll since becoming a Philadelphia city councilman
in 2011, and Anthony Massa, a contractor who has long been cozy with Johnny
prosecutors, over the course of roughly six years Johnny Doc and company stole
more than $600,000 in union funds, primarily dues and fees that the employees
under their control are forced to fork over as a job condition due to
Pennsylvania’s lack of a Right to Work law.
The loot was
allegedly spent on no-show jobs for relatives and other cronies of Local 98
bosses, multi-hundred-dollar meals at restaurants including the tony Palm
Philadelphia, and innumerable retail purchases ranging from big-screen TVs to
baby supplies and Lucky Charms cereal.
Local 98 chiefs are
also believed to have accepted bribes in the form of hundreds of thousands of
dollars in free construction work on their own homes, their other personal
properties, and the homes of relatives from Mr. Massa and George Peltz, a New
Jersey-based electrical contractor.
Hospital Was Allegedly Threatened by Dougherty-Backed Politician
Yet another charge
against Johnny Doc is that he directed his henchman on the city council, Mr.
Henon, to threaten a children’s hospital administrator for using union-free
labor to install MRI machines!
National Right to
Work Committee President Mark Mix commented:
“No one who had
been paying even minimal attention to the activities of the notorious Local 98
brass over the years could have been the least bit surprised to be told that
Johnny Doc and his lieutenants have been feathering their own nests at workers’
“More than a decade
ago, unionized Philadelphia contractor Gus Dougherty (who is not related to
Johnny Doc) pleaded guilty to bribing the Local 98 honcho in exchange for the
latter’s looking the other way while he shortchanged Local 98-‘represented’
employees on their wages and benefits.
“Gus Dougherty went
to prison, while no charges were filed against the man he admitted to bribing!”
Independent Source of Campaign Money’ in Pennsylvania
Despite the stench
of corruption that has long been emanating from Local 98 headquarters, federal,
state and local Big Labor politicians continued, right up to the day of the
indictments, to court them.
As Jeremy Roebuk
and David Gambacorta observed in a report on the indictments for the
Philadelphia Inquirer, the Local 98 machine is “the biggest independent
source of campaign money” in Pennsylvania:
“Union money and
manpower [financed mostly with dues workers are forced to pay, or lose their
jobs] have helped elect mayors, City Council members, county commissioners,
members of Congress, state legislators, governors, and more than 60 judges . .
To show their
gratitude for Local 98 union bosses’ cash contributions and their
forced-dues-funded electioneering activities, Big Labor politicians ranging
from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) have frequently paid their respects when they visit Philadelphia.
Schmoozed With Local 98 Officer While FBI Was Investigating Her
Just last summer,
for example, Ms. Pelosi schmoozed with Local 98 Political Director Marita
Crawford at a Democrat congressional fundraiser in a posh restaurant on North
Broad Street. (Ms. Crawford is one of the Local 98 officers who were indicted
on January 30.)
And since federal
prosecutors unveiled their massive case against Johnny Doc, Marita Crawford,
and the rest, politicians such as Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) have been
extraordinarily reluctant to distance themselves from their longtime patrons.
Bosses Experience ‘Outpouring’ of Big Labor ‘Support’ For Them
Meanwhile, many of
Johnny Doc’s fellow union bosses are going out of their way to express their
support for him!
Mr. Mix commented:
“In the alternative
world where Johnny Doc lives, it seems, there is nothing wrong with Big Labor
bosses using dues and fees that workers are forced to fork over as a job
condition to buy political influence and enrich themselves.
“Since the 159-page
indictment that painstakingly documents systematic misuse of forced union dues
and other union treasury money by Johnny Doc and his cohorts became public,
there has actually been an ‘outpouring of support’ for them, according to
journalist Bill McMorris of the Washington FreeBeacon.
“And the support
for the indicted Local 98 brass appears to be strongest of all among
Philadelphia union officialdom.
officers of the AFL-CIO-affiliated Philadelphia Building and Construction
Trades Council [PBCTC], which along with IBEW Local 98 is headed by Johnny Doc,
held their first post-indictment meeting on February 6.
“After the private
meeting, union bigwigs who were present assured Juliana Feliciano Reyes of the Inquirer
that support for Johnny Doc and company is universal.
Reyes quoted Pat Eiding, secretary-treasurer of the PBCTC and president of the
“‘Nobody, and I
clearly want to say nobody, asked John to leave the Building Trades.’”
‘Culture of Corruption’ Thrives in Forced-Dues Pennsylvania
“The fact is, the
lack of a Right to Work law protecting employees has fostered a ‘culture of
corruption’ in Pennsylvania in which many union bosses come to believe, whether
they say so openly or not, that it’s okay for them to do whatever they like
with money extracted from unionized workers,” declared Mr. Mix.
acknowledging the source, one Organized Labor partisan in the Philadelphia area
has decried this culture.
“In a February 4
article for the Inquirer, Ms. Feliciano Reyes quoted Kati Sipp, the
editor of the Hack the Union blog, regarding her distress about union
officials and Big Labor-allied politicians who are either openly supportive of
Johnny Doc, or refuse to say anything at all about the indictments.
“Ms. Sipp asked:
‘Is there a [union official] in Philly who will stand up and say, “What Doc is
alleged to have done –stealing from the members — is wrong”?’
of any union official in Philadelphia of any stature to say plainly, in the
wake of the IBEW Local 98 indictments, that stealing from union members is
wrong highlights the glaring need for a Pennsylvania Right to Work law.
“In a Right to Work environment, union members who suspect their dues money isn’t being used for good and proper purposes can fight back by resigning from the organization and cutting off all financial support for it. “That’s a message union bosses can understand. It undoubtedly helps account for the fact that documented cases of union corruption are far more rare in Right to Work states.”