Reminiscent of 1985, Philly Ironworker and New Jersey Longshoreman Bosses Guilty of Extortion and Vandalism

The 73-year old union boss of the 700-member Philadelphia Ironworkers union was found guilty of running a “shadow gang” that directed union members to engage in extortion and vandalize work sites in order to intimidate nonunion contractors and control all ironwork being performed in Philadelphia. The boss faces between 15 and 110 years in prison.

The union members involved in the case had a network of individuals that identified construction projects and job sites where work was being performed with nonunion labor. Union organizers would then approach the construction foremen with threats of violence or property destruction unless they hired union members. Backing up their threat, the union members would engage in “night work” consisting of arson and vandalism at nonunion sites.

In New Jersey, a longshoreman, a former Newark police officer, and a third man pled guilty to taking “Christmas Tributes” from dockworkers on the state’s waterfront in return for better jobs and wages. Thousands of union members were required to pay between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars out of their year-end bonus in order to receive higher-paying jobs, preferred shift assignments, and overtime.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at