Thursday, January 29, 2015

Water Dept. Workers Punished for Not Crossing Picket Line?

A standoff is underway at an Old City construction site where a group of water department employees today refused to cross a picket line by the carpenter’s union.

Water Dept. Workers Punished for Not Crossing Picket Line?

A standoff is underway at an Old City construction site where a group of water department employees today refused to cross a picket line by the carpenter’s union.

After the group of five city workers would not enter the site near 2nd and Market streets this morning to connect a water line, the city told them they would be taken off the clock for the rest of the day, said Pete Matthews, president of AFSCME District Council 33, which represents the city’s blue collar workers.

“Every union knows you honor another union’s picket line,” said Matthews, who said the city could have sent the workers to another site or had them do the work after 3 p.m., when the picket would be over.

We called the water department for comment, but their public relations staff said they didn’t know anything about it and that they couldn’t talk to us without clearance from the mayor’s press office. We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE, 5:10 pm:  Water Department spokeswoman Laura Copeland confirms that the employees, who had been sent to the construction site to hook up a fire suppression system, were warned that they would be sent home if they refused to complete the work.  Copeland added that the union contract lays out a process for such situations:  The workers must perform the task and then file a grievance about being made to cross a picket line.

“This contractor paid for the fire connection," Copeland said. "Our employees can’t dictate what jobs they will or will not perform.”

About this blog
William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
 Follow William on Twitter

Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
 Follow David on Twitter

PhillyClout Team
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected