Last month, 10 officers and militants of a Philadelphia-based local of the Ironworkers union were arrested and charged with “conspiring to commit acts of violence to force contractors to hire union members.”
In a February 19 report for the Philadelphia Daily News, Julia Shaw explained some of the key charges levied against Ironworkers Local 401 chief Joe Dougherty and his henchmen:
Their targets of violence, according to a federal indictment unsealed yesterday, included a Quaker meetinghouse site and workers building a kids’ toy store.
. . .The alleged crimes include a 2012 arson at the site for a new Chester Hills Friends meetinghouse and a 2010 baseball-bat whacking that seriously injured nonunion workers at a Toys R Us under construction near the King of Prussia Mall.
U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger told reporters that “the defendants used goon squads, which included union members and associates, who committed assaults, arsons, and other violent and destructive acts to make their point emphatically clear.”
Yesterday another federal prosecutor involved in the case, Robert Livermore, suggested at a pretrial screening that the allegations in last month’s indictment, as appalling as they are, may represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to construction union boss-orchestrated violence and extortion in the Philadelphia area:
Livermore says in a motion that the ongoing investigation has revealed a pattern of conduct that extended far beyond the eleven incidents of arson and extortion alleged in the indictment.
“As I mention in my motion, judge, we are still investigating this case,” Livermore said in court. “Since this indictment has become public, there’s been other victims that have come forward. They have talked to the FBI. We are still in the process of investigating those additional complaints. If there is something that arises, we may issue a superseding indictment in this case. That is certainly possible.”
(See the link Prosecutor Hints at More Indictments in Phila. Ironworkers’ Union Probe.)
Unfortunately, as a February 24 story for the Inquirer by Jeremy Roeback explained, the racketeering case against Joe Dougherty and his cohorts “could face hurdles that have plagued similar labor-violence cases”:
Unions have repeatedly turned to a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision to fend off extortion prosecutions. USA v. Enmons barred lower courts from convicting union members under the anti-extortion Hobbs Act for violence tied to “legitimate union objectives,” such as campaigning for raises or more union hires.
Lower courts have since differed on where to draw the line.
Federal prosecutors in the Ironworkers Local 401 case have told reporters that they are confident they have found the correct formula to get around Enmons this time. But the fact is, law enforcement should never have been hindered from prosecuting union bosses who orchestrate violence under the Hobbs Act in the first place.
That’s why the National Right to Work Committee is supporting legislative efforts to overturn the controversial Enmons decision and eliminate the single greatest “hurdle” impeding prosecutions of Big Labor violence cases for the past four decades.