On the night of December 20, vandals (presumably, according to police, union vandals) laid siege to a Quaker meeting house being constructed by non-union labor.
Not far from downtown (Center City) Philadelphia, the Quakers (a religious group known for their plain clothes and strong pacifist beliefs), had decided in 1997 that they had outgrown their existing meeting house and concluded to build a new one--the first in 80 years.
Nearly 15 years later, with a construction cost of $5.8 million, the Quakers began construction on the Chestnut Hill Friends meetinghouse. However, because bids from union contractors were 23% higher than the winning bid, the Quakers chose to use a union-free contractor.
Their choice to build union-free, however, was bothersome to Philadelphia's unions:
Vandals with an acetylene torch crept onto the project's muddy construction site in the middle of the night. Working out of view in the meetinghouse's freshly cemented basement, they sliced off dozens of bolts securing the bare steel columns and set fire to the building crane, causing $500,000 in damage.
Police detectives deemed the attack arson because of a series of confrontational visits from union officials days before the incident. They say the torch could only have been operated by a trained professional, and believe it was almost certainly the work of disgruntled union members. The city has assigned extra investigators to the case and is working with federal forensic experts to track down the vandals, said Michael Resnick, the city's public safety commissioner. [Emphasis added.]
"I absolutely think it is a union issue."
So far, there have been no arrests made in what police believe is a "union" issue:
Vandals cut anchor bolts and used torches on structural columns in the future meeting house's community room, authorities said. They also set fire to a crane on the property. Police believe the Quaker building was targeted because it is being built with nonunion labor.
"I absolutely think it is a union issue," Philadelphia Police Lt. George McClay told the Philadelphia Inquirer. [Emphasis added.]
Since police have not made any arrests yet, the Associated Builders and Contractors' Eastern PA chapter is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and the felony conviction of the person(s) responsible for damages at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting in Philadelphia.
According to police investigators, on Dec. 20, 2012, vandals entered the jobsite of a Quaker meetinghouse being built in Chestnut Hill, a community in a northern section of Philadelphia. The vandals cut anchor bolts and used torches on structural columns, as well as set the cab of a crane on fire. The vandalism resulted in $500,000 in damages.
The $50,000 reward will go to the person that provides information leading to the arrest and felony conviction of any adult(s) who authorized, or engaged in the act of, the vandalism. If more than one person provides such information, the total reward will be divided among the informants as deemed appropriate by ABC.
Call 610-279-6666 to report any information. Click here for more information about the reward. [Emphasis added.]
Relatedly, Philadelphia union boss Pat Gillespie would like the New York Times believe someone else is responsible for the arson:
Pat Gillespie, business manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents about 60,000 construction workers, rejected suggestions that members were responsible. He said that the relatively small project would not generate enough work to explain any such attack, and that union members would not want to jeopardize chances of future work by alienating potential employers.
The episode may have been a result of a payment dispute, he said. “Maybe that person had business dealings that didn’t go too well.”
Yeah, okay, Pat, keep telling yourself that.
"Truth isn't mean. It's truth."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com