Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Ironworkers: The harder they come, the harder they fall

Don’t cross the line.

Ironworkers: The harder they come, the harder they fall

FILE: Ironworker Mike Kulp climbs a column before connecting a beam to the 54th floor of the 58-story Comcast Center. Work began in 2005 for a 2008 opening.
FILE: Ironworker Mike Kulp climbs a column before connecting a beam to the 54th floor of the 58-story Comcast Center. Work began in 2005 for a 2008 opening. BARBARA L. JOHNSTON / File

Don’t cross the line.

That’s the message the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia sent today when he announced the government’s indictment against members of Ironworkers Local Union 401.

“It's one thing to negotiate a contract,” said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger at today’s press conference, adding, “It's one thing to picket in order to get your position heard and get support. But when you cross that line and engage in violent acts, when you commit arson, when you physically assault someone, then that's a problem because that type of conduct cannot be tolerated.”

For too long, organized labor in Philadelphia has been associated with organized violence. One cannot forget the vicious beating two Bill Clinton protesters – siblings Teri Adams and Don Adams – experienced back on October 2, 1998 at City Hall at the hands of the Teamsters. Even almost 16 years later, it’s still very difficult to watch this video.

I contacted Teri Adams this afternoon, who said, “I think after all these years, it’s gratifying to see law enforcement finally crack down on union violence. It’s been a long time coming, and, hopefully, it will discourage future acts of violence, like those perpetrated upon myself and my brother and countless others, as well as destruction of property and arson. “ Adams now serves as President of the Independence Hall Tea Party.

Fast forward to 2012, and you can’t dispute the vicious beatings that have taken place at the Post Brothers’ Goldtex Apartments site at 12th and Vine in Center City. An entire page of videos shows incontrovertible proof of violence enough to make you vomit. Sorry, but there is no way of Photoshopping the assaults you are about to see. It makes you almost want to leave Dodge.

But this is our house. We’re not leaving. Instead, we have to send the bad guys to the pen.

Anyone who looks the other way is condoning violence. Anyone who ignores goons smashing a fence against someone until he passes out is not someone that can be negotiated with.

There is no excuse for violence.

There is no justification for violence.

There is no explanation for violence.

You won’t convince me to give you a job by burning down my house of worship.

You won’t convince me to give you a job by assaulting my employees.

Quite frankly, if you do these things, you are in the same league as some of the recent violent purse snatchers.

For that reason, it’s game over.

It’s time for the last union town to fall.

Our mayor has ignored the unions, and, quite frankly, you can’t blame him as they have shown him zero respect.

I will be doing my part.

I curiously read Inquirer reporter Jeremy Roebuck’s piece today, where he said, “One such group, according to a 49-page indictment, jokingly called itself ‘The Helpful Union Guys,’ or ‘T.H.U.G.S.’”

Hmmm. “The Helpful Union Guys.”

Apparently, the Teamsters have no problem using or even celebrating that term. Look here.

Well, I headed over to Godaddy, put in “thehelpfulunionguys.com,” and voilà … I am now the legal registrant of that name.

You may find it interesting where I pointed my new Web domain to – with the Website owner’s blessings.

Click here to find out.

Consider it an in-kind contribution.

Meanwhile, Barbara Moran, the Executive Director of Pennsylvanians for Right to Work, Inc., was quick to chime in. “It is situations like this that make it so critically important that we pass Right to Work laws in PA now.  No worker should be forced to pay dues to unions who conduct themselves like this. I think we also have to look at the current exemption that unions have from the harassing, stalking, and weapons of mass destruction laws in PA.  This allows these types of situations to escalate to a point that actual violent acts take place.  It is time to take that exemption away by passing HB 1154 that does just that.”

Her colleague, Matthew Wagner, echoed similar sentiments, adding, “By opposing Right to Work laws, union executives are committing extortion on their members every day by forcing them to join or pay dues to an organization to which they may or may not want to belong while holding their job hostage. Is it any wonder than that that spirit of extortion and violence can have a tendency not just  to run rampant through some union organizations, but be joked about?”

Over the next few days, I’ll be curious to see how the pro-labor activists and unions bosses respond to the federal prosecutors’ charges.

I’m reminded of Jimmy Cliff’s song: The harder they come, they harder they fall, one and all.

 Contact John Featherman at john@featherman.com

John Featherman
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