Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

The City of (Brotherly) Union Beatings

Jillian Kay Melchior of the Franklin Center just concluded her threepart series, “Goon City,” at the National Review Online this week. Her articles took an inside look at labor unions in the ironically nicknamed “City of Brotherly Love” and found that union destruction and terror is a way of life.

Melchior details vandalism — ranging from burning down the construction site of a Quaker meetinghouse to ruining construction equipment — and violence, including videos of union members crushing a nonunion engineer with a fence.

Fittingly, Philadelphia is the city where organized labor staged its shadow convention last summer. It was no more than an “expensive temper tantrum,” but the host city choice seems obvious after reading Melchoir’s series.

Labor’s response is unsurprising. If anyone was even willing to comment, it was to downplay the alleged criminal activity and blame the victim.  Melchoir turns to an official from the Building Trades Council, Pat Gillespie, for his insight:

Gillespie says the videos the Pestronks[contractors who have not hired unions] post to YouTube are “only convenient video — and I know this sounds crazy, but I’ve heard they go antagonize people, and then people react to that antagonism on camera.” And he claims the Pestronks have hired people to intimidate him, “guys with a lot of tattoos and that stuff.”

Gillespie tells me that conflict between the union members and the Pestronks’ workers “doesn’t amount to anything more than pushing and shoving matches. [The Pestronks] don’t like to be called out for what they are: a couple of bottom-feeders who are trying to profiteer at the expense of people who work for their money.”

And what of one of their opponents of old, J. Leon Altemose, who was also very public in his opposition to organized labor’s crimes?:

“He went around and antagonized, too. . . . He came into town and was very aggressive to some people. Someone punched him in the nose, punched him in the eye, he had a black eye. You could see the makeup ring they put under his eye to make it stand out. . . .”

Unless people like the Pestronk brothers, who are chronicling, on video, labor thugs at their job sites on, continue to stand up and expose these problems, not much can be done. As Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason highlighted yesterday, state laws often protect the bad behavior of labor unions. This Chamber of Commerce report explains that Pennsylvania is one of those states.

But the tide may be turning: a Philadelphia magazine on the Pestronks in November that that they were “The Brothers Who Busted Philly Unions. For Good.”

Categories: Center for Union FactsCrime & CorruptionViolence