Union Violence Doesn’t Pay
Two more Philadelphia Ironworkers Local 401 members have been sentenced for their part in the reign of terror and violence, once again demonstrating that violence does not pay.Â Jeremy Roebuck has the story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
William Gillin, 43, was sentenced to 51/2 years Friday. He is one of 11 members of the union who confessed to a list of crimes last year, including a December 2012 arson at a Quaker meetinghouse under construction in Chestnut Hill.
That attack prompted calls from builders to crack down on what they described as Philadelphia’s entrenched culture of union intimidation and violent retribution.
At his sentencing hearing Friday, Gillin told U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson he felt manipulated by the union leadership into committing crimes.
Gillin’s sentencing came a day after Baylson gave a sentence of six months in prison followed by six months of house arrest to another ironworker – Daniel Hennigar, 54, who also admitted to participating in the attack on the meetinghouse.
In all, prosecutors brought charges against 12 members of Ironworkers Local 401, most of whom pleaded guilty before trial.
Their testimony indicated Ironworkers Local 401 was a union in which violence served as more than just a negotiating tool – it was ingrained into the very structure of the organization.
Willingness to participate in arsons, vandalism, and beatings delivered on picket lines – called “nightwork” by union members – was a major factor in deciding which workers received the best assignments and moved up in the union hierarchy, they said.
In preparation for the sentencing hearings yet to come, Baylson wrote a lengthy memo last month laying out his views on the case.
Over 50 pages, he analyzed the history of union violence in the city, a pattern he described as “simply unacceptable in a civil society” and a “scourge,” which he compared to “a biblical plague.”
“Much of the history of construction unions in Philadelphia has been one of strife, corruption, violence and discrimination,” Baylson wrote. He added: “The opportunity to deter future crimes is an opportunity too important to ignore.”