Mike Shedlock

A "goon-squad" group named The Helpful Union Guys (THUG), members of Ironworkers Local 401 set fires, started riots, and took crowbars to the competition in an effort to protect union jobs.

THUGs stalked women, took baseball bats to a Toys R Us site, and even torched a Quaker meetinghouse that dared to use non-union labor.

Philly.Com reports 10 leaders of Ironworkers Local 401 charged in racketeering indictment.

They called themselves "the Helpful Union Guys" - "THUGS" for short - and woe awaited any contractor who dared cross them by hiring non-organized workers.

For, federal authorities alleged Tuesday, this "goon squad" of members of Ironworkers Local 401 set fires, started riots, and took crowbars to the competition in an effort to protect union jobs.

FBI agents arrested 10 of the union's leaders Tuesday morning, including longtime head Joseph Dougherty, in a racketeering conspiracy case that appeared to affirm long-standing business complaints over the tactics employed by Philadelphia unions.

Prosecutors alleged that Dougherty and others have cost contractors hundreds of thousands of dollars over at least three years, and were indiscriminate in choosing their targets - equally willing to break skulls with baseball bats at a Toys R Us work site in King of Prussia or torch a Quaker meetinghouse under construction in Chestnut Hill.

According to the 49-page indictment, Dougherty, 72, coordinated the campaign of sabotage and extortion, urging members to picket, threaten, and destroy the property of contractors who ignored threats against hiring nonunion employees.

At the meetinghouse work site, prosecutors said, three union members cut steel beams and set fire to a crane in December 2012, setting the project back weeks and costing the contracting firm, E. Allen Reeves Inc. of Abington, more than $500,000.

Mike Shedlock

Mike Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management.
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