Pennsylvania Mugged by Carpenters Union Toughs

Lawsuit: Racketeering Bilked Taxpayers of ‘More Than $1 Million’

(Click here to download the June 2015 National Right to Work Newsletter)

emmonsEarly this year, a federal jury in Pennsylvania convicted Joseph Dougherty, the former boss of Philadelphia-based Local 401 of the Ironworkers Union, of leading a conspiracy to extort and commit violence against union-free construction employees and businesses.

Prior to Mr. Dougherty’s trial in January, 11 of his paid subordinates and militant followers had pleaded guilty to resorting again and again to assault, arson and vandalism to bring independent employees and employers into line.

At trial, the jury listened to testimony from several of Mr. Dougherty’s former lieutenants, as well as multiple wiretapped phone calls, including one in which he asserted that “[y]ou should be able to do whatever you want” to people who dare to operate union free “and it should be legal.”

In the end, the jury convicted Mr. Dougherty on 25 counts of conspiracy to commit arson, property destruction and assault. The crimes were all carried out at construction sites in the Philadelphia area from 2008 to 2013.

In the wake of the January 20 guilty verdict, prosecutor Robert Livermore declared that a message had been sent that “[e]verybody has to follow the law.”

But judging by a lawsuit filed last month by the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA), carpenters union bosses and their militant followers in the City of Brotherly Love haven’t gotten the message yet.

Outrageous Union Work Rules Long Prevented Exhibitors From Using Power Tools

The PCCA is a state government agency established by Pennsylvania legislators in 1986.  It has the power under state law to acquire, build and maintain convention centers with public funds.

The PCCA lawsuit charges that carpenters union bigwigs launched a violent campaign last spring to save face after their intransigence had cost rank-and-file union members work opportunities at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, located in the Market East section of Philadelphia.

In May 2014, Edward Coryell Sr., executive secretary-treasurer and business manager of the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters (MRCC), and his cohorts failed to meet the deadline for signing the Customer Satisfaction Agreement (CSA) that the PCCA had insisted upon.

The purpose of the CSA was to stem the loss of convention bookings in Philadelphia caused by outrageous union work rules that had even prevented exhibitors from using power tools and ladders when setting up their booths.

Bowing to the inevitable, a number of local union bosses signed the CSA in time to allow the workers over whom they wield monopoly-bargaining power to continue getting assignments at the center.

Extortionate Campaign Has Involved ‘Harassment, Race-Baiting, and Threats’

But officers of the MRCC, a subsidiary of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America union, belligerently refused.

In fact, as the lawsuit states, Mr. Coryell “declared that MRCC would never sign the CSA, and threatened that there would never be peace at the Convention Center if the PCCA chose to implement that agreement.”

However, contrary to Mr. Coryell’s evident expectations, the PCCA did not back down after the deadline to sign the CSA had passed. Instead, jobs that had previously been assigned to MRCC boss-“represented” workers were turned over to other unionized workers.

It was then, the lawsuit charges, that carpenters union kingpins, “privately infuriated that they had led their rank and file down such a disastrous path,” launched “a campaign of illegal violence and intimidation” aimed at the PCCA and its “customers, vendors and contractors,” as well as at “members of other unions.”

This campaign has involved “physical intimidation,” “stalking,” “assault and battery,” “harassment, race-baiting, and threats; and the destruction of property.”

The goal of the court action is to put a stop to Philadelphia carpenters union bigwigs’ lawlessness and recover “more than $1 million in damages” for Pennsylvania taxpayers.

The most egregious case of orchestrated sabotage cited in the lawsuit occurred on the evening of January 30, a few hours before the official start of the 2015 Philadelphia Auto Show.

Roughly 200 MRCC zealots allegedly were admitted as paying guests, then implemented a well-planned, systematic scheme to damage exhibitor vehicles by “removing engine covers and fuses, ripping out wiring harnesses and stealing oil and gas caps,” and jamming “caps and fuses into vehicle engines . . . .”

It’s ‘Extraordinarily Difficult’ to Prosecute Union Lawbreakers

These and multiple other acts of property destruction and assault were carried out in plain sight of hundreds if not thousands of witnesses by union operatives who made no attempt to disguise themselves.