What happens when developers buck the status quo? If a recent case study is example, the answer is violence, vandalism and other indecent behavior.
In 2010, the owners of Post Brothers Apartments in Philadelphia purchased an abandoned textile factory with the goal of transforming it into upscale rental apartments. Like any responsible business owners, they began accepting bids for the projects. When all was said and done, about 40 percent of the work or about 100 jobs were awarded to union sub-contractors.
However, the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trade Council leaders decided that unless the work was done with 100percent union labor, that no union contractors would do the work. The developers, Mike and Matt Pestronk, gave the unions a chance to beat the best bids. When the unions couldn’t beat the bids, the brothers began their project without the blessing of the unions.
“When young brothers Matthew and Michael Pestronk decided to become apartment developers in Philadelphia, they didn't expect to find bottles of urine littering their construction sites, or asbestos planted in the walls, or posters put up there of Mike's dead dog or of his wife with a penis superimposed on her face.” May 9, 2012
“Surveillance video shows a scuffle at the work site that ends when two of the protesters use a section of chain-link fence to smash a worker against a stone support that holds up the Reading Viaduct. The worker collapses and lies on the ground for a couple of minutes…the contractor was knocked unconscious and an ambulance was called… A woman said she found a "nail bomb" in the street. One of the Pestronks said these "bombs" — nails welded together in a ball — have punctured workers' tires.” July 25, 2012
Sadly, these are not isolated incidents. The brothers have set up a web site chronicling the actions that the union “protestors” have taken against people and property. It includes video of Fred Cosenza, a Business Representative of the Trade Council, slapping a security guard (who probably makes far less than Mr. Cosenza’s $98,000/year salary), and a number of other videos showing access to the cite being blocked and acts of violence being committed against other workers.
Although the developers have filed a complaint with federal labor authorities, where are the Pennsylvania House and Senate Labor committees? Why hasn’t either of those bodies held hearings on the behavior of the unions? Is the message that they want sent to developers and businesses, do what the unions tell you in Pennsylvania or don’t do business here?
Crossposted on the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania Newsblog