iStock_000009410739SmallThe business manager of the Ironworkers Local 401 and ten members were recently charged with conspiracy to commit criminal acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property, and assault in order to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers. (Hat tip to Wally Zimolong’s excellent blog, Supplemental Conditions)

This case, brought by the U.S. Attorney out of the Philadelphia, stems from the Local 401’s tactics to force contractors to use union labor. According to the indictment, a group of Local 401 members would approach construction foremen at work sites and threatened them with violence and destruction of property unless union members were hired. This groupwas referred to as “The Helpful Union Guys” or THUGs. Nice.

The indictment highlighted a few of the union members’ activities. At the Quaker Meeting House project, Local 401 members went to the construction site, set a crane on fire and cut steel beams and bolts, causing over $500,000 in damage. They also picketed a shopping mall project and assaulted some of the non-union workers with baseball bats. Finally, they picketed an apartment complex project and threatened the contractor enough to get him to turn over the job to a union-affiliated contractor.

If convicted of all charges, the union members face prison terms of 35 to 130 years.

Of course this is an egregious situation, but certainly shows the extremes that some union members will pursue to ensure that union labor is used on a project.