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Warminster union worker pleads guilty to sabotaging construction sites (Read More…)

By ANTHONY DIMATTIA Staff writer | Posted: Monday, September 22, 2014 8:30 pm

A Bucks County member of the Ironworkers Local 401 has pleaded guilty to sabotaging area construction sites in retaliation for contractors who did not hire union workers.
Francis Sean O’Donnell, 43, of Warminster, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to maliciously damage property by means of fire and related charges Monday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

O’Donnell faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison with a five-year mandatory minimum sentence along with three years of supervised release and a $750,000 fine. His sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 13.

On more than 10 instances, O’Donnell acted as a business agent for the Ironworkers Local 401 by extorting or attempting to extort non-union contractors to hire union labor. If a contractor refused, O’Donnell and his “Shadow Gang” — which included other Ironworkers Local 401 members — would use sledgehammers to destroy anchor bolts and cause thousands of dollars in damage to non-union construction sites.

O’Donnell personally arranged and authorized the attempted arson and destruction of property at a construction site in Malvern last year, according to an indictment filed in February. He is also accused of organizing a sabotage effort at a Ridley construction site last year, authorities said.

William Gillin, 43, of Philadelphia, also pleaded guilty Monday to RICO conspiracy, maliciously damaging property by means of fire and related charges. Gillin admitted to participating in the December 2012 arson of the Quaker Meetinghouse on Grays Avenue in Philadelphia and an attempted arson in Malvern as well as other cases in retaliation for contractors’ failure to hire union ironworkers.
O’Donnell and Gillin were among 10 ironworkers indicted in February for using illegal tactics — including arson, sabotage and physical violence — to force contractors to hire union workers.

Christopher Prophet, 43, of Richboro, is accused of supervising and organizing extortion, picket lines and other acts of sabotage on behalf of Ironworkers Local 401. If convicted, Prophet faces a maximum of up to 40 years in prison.

Prophet and O’Donnell are two of the three business agents for Local 401 in Philadelphia — along with business manager Joe Dougherty — accused of organizing the illegal activities that were carried out by six other union members between 2010 and last year, authorities said.

Prophet also organized the baseball bat assaults on two nonunion workers at the construction site, which were carried out by other defendants, according to the indictment. Prophet also provided police with false information about the identities of the baseball bat suspects and their connection with the union to throw off the investigation, authorities said.

The 10 defendants are charged with participating in a conspiracy to commit criminal acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property and assault in an effort to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers, according to the indictment. Specifically, the indictment charges RICO conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, three counts of arson, two counts of use of fire to commit a felony, and conspiracy to commit arson.

Other defendants named in the indictment are Edward Sweeney, 55, of Philadelphia; William O’Donnell, 61, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and union members James Walsh, 49, Richard Ritchie, 44, Daniel Hennigar, 53, and Greg Sullivan, 49, all of Philadelphia.

A Jan. 5 trial at the U.S District Court in Philadelphia is scheduled for Dougherty, Prophet, Sweeney and Ritchie. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23 for Sullivan and Walsh and Oct. 10 for Hennigar, according to online court records.

If convicted of all charges, Dougherty, Sweeney and Walsh each face a mandatory minimum 35 years in prison; Hennigar a mandatory minimum of 15 years; Sullivan a mandatory minimum of five years in prison; and William O’Donnell up to 20 years behind bars.

Posted by Admin on 09/22 at 10:33 PM

Con-way Freight workers vote to organize in Laredo (Read More…)

Teamsters to represent 113 workers; vote marks establishment of first union shop at LTL carrier.

By DC Velocity Staff

Con-way Freight workers in Laredo, Texas, agreed on Friday to unionize under the Teamsters union, the first time in the company’s 31 years of operation that it will have to work with a bargaining unit.

The 113 drivers and dockworkers employed at the less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier’s terminal in the Texas border city voted by a 55-49 margin to join Teamsters Local 657.

Frank Perkins, president of the San Antonio-based Local, said it requested representation elections at Con-way’s Laredo terminal because of its visibility as the nation’s busiest inland port, with 7,000 trucks crossing the Mexican border every day. Under rules established by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an election for union representation can be held if more than 30 percent of workers at the prospective location request one. In a related development, the Teamsters last Wednesday filed with the NLRB to hold elections at Con-way terminals in Los Angeles, Santa Fe Springs, and San Fernando, Calif.

“This is a great victory for the workers at Con-way, and we hope this campaign spreads,” said Perkins in a statement, referring to the Laredo vote. A spokesman for parent Con-way Inc. was unavailable for comment.

Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal law governing labor relations in the trucking industry, organizing must be done on a terminal-by-terminal basis. Con-way has more than 300 terminals.

In 1983, Consolidated Freightways Inc., which at the time operated a long-haul union carrier called CF Motor Freight, created a regional nonunion LTL unit and named it Con-way Freight. The move was enormously significant in the early days of trucking deregulation because it was the first major case of a company that owned a unionized carrier establishing a nonunion operation under the same corporate umbrella. The strategy was known as “double-breasting.” The move was also a harbinger of the growing role that regional LTL services would play in U.S. transportation.

As Con-way Freight flourished over the years, the old CF Motor Freight, which was eventually rebranded Consolidated Freightways Corp., went into decline in the 1990s. It closed its doors on Labor Day in 2002 after failing to make adequate insurance payments. Stories abounded at the time of customers’ freight literally being dumped along the sides of roads as the CF system shut down overnight.

The victory in Laredo may not be the last for Teamster organizing efforts in LTL trucking. According to published reports, more than 30 percent of nonunion carrier FedEx Freight’s 250 drivers have requested a vote on union representation. Local 135 in Indianapolis will file an election request with the NLRB in the next 60 or 90 days, according to these reports. The Teamsters are also seeking representation elections at FedEx Freight terminals in Philadelphia and Cinnaminson, N.J., according to these reports.

FedEx Freight is a unit of Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp. It operates 355 terminals.


Posted by Admin on 09/16 at 07:48 AM