Philly: Last Union Town

Philly has long been held hostage by trade unions.  If Nutter manages to break them, he’ll be doing the City a tremedous service on the way to turning it around.  Just to give you an idea how this city works:

A few days earlier, a couple of blocks away, the same electricians union had been outbid for a job repairing a bit of wiring at the Five Guys burger joint. The electricians are headed by John Dougherty, one of the city’s most vocal and visible union leaders, who has a reputation for rough tactics when it comes to union business. The union — Local 98 — sent picketers who insinuated that the restaurant was unclean due to a vermin infestation.

The unions in Philadelphia are no better than a criminal shakedown racket, and they are in desperate need of having their power smashed.  If Nutter can accomplish that, it’ll make up for some of his bungling stupidity in other areas.  This, no doubt, also has to do with Philadelphia voters kicking John Dougherty to the curb.

Having grown up in an area with a lot of union households, I can say based on my antecdotal evidence, this is more than just political correctness:

The “problematic” piece of legislation stemmed from a push by City Council for more racial balance in the trade unions, following a series of stunning revelations in previous weeks.

I had one of my friends who was in a trade union explain to me that “there’s no way we’d accept more n*****s into the apprenticeship when it’s getting harder for white people to find work.”  Another said “if you hire scab labor, it’s just a bunch of lazy mexicans who will do faulty work.”  When I used to work in a union shop part time in high school, it was our company’s unstated policy that no blacks would be hired, and I was looked at as if I had some kind of disease when I suggested this practice might be, I don’t know, morally and lawfully wrong.  The common belief was “They’ll steal our product, and sell it to all to their ‘home boys.'”

Now, I’m not saying that all union members are racist, but in my experience growing up and working for a bit in that kind of environment, the attitude is pretty prevalent, and it’s difficult for me to believe that doesn’t make its way into decisions about who and who doesn’t get let into the apprenticeships.

It’s been almost two decades since I worked in a union shop, so maybe things have changed since then, but I think they’ve largely kept African Americans and other minorities out of the skilled trades, and the skilled trades are a way out of the poverty trap.  As libertarians, we can’t go around demanding and end to government handouts and affermative action, and let remain in place the system, such as the one that exists in Philadelphia, that allow unions to hold the city hostage, and deny a fair shot to people outside that system to get ahead.  It’s high time that was ended, and it’ll be an important component of any turnaround the city might have.

UPDATE: This is what used to happen when you stand up to union thugs in Philadelphia:

Altemose installed a mile-long chain-link fence around his work site, and proceeded without the unions. He started carrying a pistol, which he practiced shooting while wearing his coat and tie.

He and his workers received threats — such as acid in their kids’ faces — if the work continued. Altemose installed a device on his car so he could start it by remote control each morning in his driveway.

In June, a thousand union men showed up in Valley Forge, wearing hard hats. They trampled over the chain-link fence and began what the state Supreme Court later called “a virtual military assault,” using color-coded smoke bombs to designate targeted areas, along with firebombs and — incredibly — hand grenades.

The second amendment protects us against a lot more than just government thugs.  Would Altmouse have had the minerals to stand up to the unions if he was forcibly disarmed by a government that would have most decidedly looked the other way when it came to union thugs carrying guns?

8 thoughts on “Philly: Last Union Town”

  1. When I was working on a project in Philly, goons from local 98 used to camp out in front of our office so they could follow the work crews around and harass them. They were upset because of the city’s minority owned business requirement meant that there wouldn’t be any union electricians on the job. They held up work at a couple of locations because union crane operators refused to do the job as long as local 98 was “unhappy”.

  2. I read that article when it was first published in print form in Philadelphia Magazine. Missing from the piece, if I remember correctly, was an example from a high school girls’ volleyball tournament & tour that was held at the convention center in the mid 1990’s. At other locations, three of the girls would set up the nets on their own, and it would take them under hour. At the PA convention center in Philly, it would take maybe 4 unions guys 90 minutes to do the same job.

    I first read that article and I was depressed, but the PA primary two months ago gave me hope when Johnny Doc was sent out on a rail in his bid for the Democratic nomination for PA senate. I think Philadelphians are starting to see the corruption in their public figures and maybe they’ve turned the corner. Michael Nutter, even if he is a ninny, is clean. If he can rein the unions in, I’m willing to put up with his ninny-ness.

  3. right after graduating college, I took a job working for APC (the power surge battery backup folks) in headquarters doing marketing work. This was in Rhode Island, as Union of a place as your likely to see.

    Now, APC wasn’t a union shop (or at least, i wasn’t in the union) but I had a project I was working on. We were running behind schedule and had a deadline of that evening to get things done. So to make sure it go done, i stayed out on the shop floor (we were putting this together up above the factory floor) and worked through lunch.

    Well, that didn’t go over well with the locals. I was immediatly asked to help someone lift something, and being a helpful guy followed this older fellow around the corner. Next thing I knew I was surrounded by some of the other employees, and an older guy (former shipyard worker) explained to me that I was young and didn’t know any better, but that even though this wasn’t a union shop it was a union state and that I should think twice before working through lunch because it made my fellow workers look bad and that if we wanted to take back the shop then we all needed to stick together.

    It was an eye opener to say the least. . .and sadly one guy against union thugs in a union state is pretty powerless. I ended up leaving the company shortly afterward and made my way to DC.

  4. Unions have come full circle and are now the thing they railed against.

    Also a large factor in outsourcing. Remember back a few months, or maybe a little longer, the bill they were trying to push through about eliminating the secret ballot for unionizing. Countertop’s comments are why that should never happen.

  5. In June, a thousand union men showed up in Valley Forge, wearing hard hats. They trampled over the chain-link fence and began what the state Supreme Court later called “a virtual military assault,” using color-coded smoke bombs to designate targeted areas, along with firebombs and — incredibly — hand grenades.

    I wonder what would have happened had those union workers been met with volley fire, instead of being allowed to run amok. Probably all the poor bastards who took part would be in jail for murder, but this is one of the best examples of why it should be legal to shoot to protect property under certain circumstances that I can think of.

  6. I was shocked to learn that in our small town such tactics took the following form: the local mill workers agreed to NOT unionize as long as they kept the blacks out of the mills.

  7. After we moved here, I was astounded at how much time it takes to get any construction done here. Then I realized I no longer lived in a right to work state, and all was made clear.

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