Union Violence: A Case Study from the US

The Engineering News-Record reports on recent charges against union officials in the United States, which in many ways seem to parallel allegations of misconduct in Australia:

Like other big-city unions, ironworkers’ Local 401 in Philadephia found its once-unchallenged hold on the city and its suburbs compromised as nonunion contractors increased their market share.

In response, say federal prosecutors, the local’s leaders carried out, over many years, a program of intimidation that stands out for its violence and audacity. 

According to a grand jury indictment opened in Philadelphia last week, business manager and local leader Joseph Dougherty and nine other officers and members regularly employed violence and threats to extort contractors, limit nonunion work and even keep union carpenters from performing work the local believed it should control…

Using a network of informers, the union kept tabs on which construction projects used nonunion labor. When deemed necessary, the local dispatched a group of members, known as “goon squads,” to threaten contractors. The 49-page indictment notes that one such group jokingly called itself “The Helpful Union Guys,” or “T.H.U.G.S.” The goon squads were employed against non-union contractors “to force them to hire unwanted, unnecessary, and superfluous union labor,” states the indictment.

Read the full article here: Federal Charge: Violent Ironworkers’ Local 401 Valued its ‘THUGS’ 

Martin Ferguson Urges Radical FWA Reform

Martin Ferguson, a former President of the ACTU and Minister for Resources in the Rudd-Gillard Government has called for radical reform of Australia’s broken industrial relations framework:

“We must get serious about closing the competitive gap that has opened up between Australia and our rivals,” he will say.

“A workplace relations system that drives investment to other countries is in nobody’s interest – certainly not those union members and their families who will be bargaining themselves out of a future.”

“I would urge the Government to keep an open mind on the need for further reform in this area,” he will say.

“The objectives of the Fair Work Act need to be examined to make sure they truly reflect the need for Australia to be internationally competitive.”

Mr Ferguson has also supported reinstating the ABCC as “a mechanism that holds both sides to account and which can help deliver projects on time and on budget,”