Philly Union Dons Stand ‘in Solidarity’ With Accused Big Labor Embezzler

In September, Philadelphia AFL-CIO chief Pat Eiding (pictured standing on a parade float) hosted a “summit” at which six 2020 Democrat presidential hopefuls pledged their fealty to Big Labor. Now Eiding is publicly helping solicit $15,000 contributions for the legal defense of electricians union honcho John Dougherty, who with his cohorts allegedly stole more than $600,000 in union funds from workers. Image: Jessica Griffin/Philadelphia Inquirer

Roughly a month ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an op-ed by Pat Eiding, the president of the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia and the secretary-treasurer of the city’s building trades council union conglomerate, exhorting candidates for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination to commit themselves now to handing Big Labor a host of new monopoly privileges if they make it to the White House in January 2021.

Subsequently, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and four other Democrat presidential hopefuls participated in the so-called “Workers’ Presidential Summit” hosted by Eiding and other local AFL-CIO kingpins in Philadelphia on September 17.  They all vowed to implement radical new policies that would make it even easier for Big Labor to corral employees into unions. Sanders, for example, pledged to implement his so-called “Workplace Democracy Act,” which would, in his words, “end Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act and eliminate all Right to Work legislation,” and also boost compulsory unionism in a host of other ways.

Biden, Sanders, and the rest claim that granting new special privileges to union bosses like Pat Eiding would somehow benefit workers. But Eiding himself illustrates why this just isn’t so.  He has a shameful track record of siding with fellow union bosses who prey on workers as well as other Big Labor victims.

This month Eiding is at it again. Along with other officers of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council (PBCTC), he has just set up a “legal defense fund” for Council President John Dougherty. Early this year, Dougherty, the president of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW/AFL-CIO) union, was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with embezzlement, bribery and theft  Along with other Local 98 officers and staff members, he is accused of stealing more than $600,000 in union funds, primarily dues and fees that workers under their control are forced to fork over as a job condition due to Pennsylvania’s lack of a Right to Work law.

The PBCTC’s latest decision to stand “in solidarity with Dougherty” was the subject of an October 11 report in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Chris Brennan and William Bender, who noted:

Dougherty and his cohorts are accused of using Local 98 funds for personal items, both mundane (baby wipes, bottled water, rawhide dog bones, mouthwash, cereal, cakes) and extravagant (concert tickets, home and business renovations, travel, vacations and trips to horse races).

Since he continues, even as he prepares to be tried in federal court at a yet-to-be determined time, to be paid “almost $370,000 annually” from Local 98’s forced dues-stocked treasury, Dougherty could certainly afford to fund his own legal defense if he chose to.  According to Brennan and Bender, Dougherty’s fellow PBCTC officers “are being asked to dig deep — $15,000 apiece — to fill the fund.”  The money is reportedly supposed to come “from personal donations, not union funds,” but the ultimate source would in that case presumably be union bosses’ forced dues-funded salaries, of course.

When asked to comment on the move, Eiding suggested to the Inquirer that no one should be surprised. He reminded the paper the PBCTC hierarchy had “created a similar fund for Joe Dougherty, the former head of Ironworkers Local 401, who was sentenced in 2015 to 19 years in federal prison for using sabotage, arson, and intimidation” to deter contractors from hiring union-free labor. (Joe Dougherty is not related to John Dougherty.)

Ordinary Americans understand there’s nothing “pro-worker” about funneling potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to a man who allegedly robbed workers blind for roughly six years, simply because he happens to be a fellow union boss.  But Eiding evidently sees nothing wrong with what he is doing. Will Biden, Sanders, et. al. continue avidly to seek Eiding’s approbation on labor policy matters?