Pardon the informality of the headline, but this simply cannot be believed. Philadelinquency spotted a post on Philadelphia Speaks in which forum member fiveomar described an interaction at 20th and Chestnut with a “union goon” (now, that’s not nice) who was handing out anti-Post Brothers fliers. According to fiveomar, the fliers included “some pretty ridiculous claims about the Post Brothers storing and smuggling heroine [sic] and cocaine.”
We have tried to maintain some degree of objectivity here, but if the building trades are now painting Matthew Pestronk as Pablo Escobar, that has to be the last straw. What’s next? Mike Pestronk is actually Walter White?
Yesterday there was a lot of union activity from the organized laborers of the area. Not long ago, we wrote about the latest in a long line of volleys between the Post Brothers–developers and managers of numerous buildings in the city–and building trade unions, which have been largely absent from the Post Bros.’ work sites (except as protesters).
The most recent dustup came when Post Brothers co-owner Matthew Pestronk told us residents were being videotaped by members of Local 98 as they walked in and out of Rittenhouse Hill, a Post Brothers property. Initially, Local 98 spokesperson Frank Keel was skeptical of the claims, but after seeing photos of the men involved, he conceded it was, indeed, union members–but they were only there for one day and only to monitor the placement of their protest signs on the lawn.
Subsequently, Pestronk sent us photographs of guys with videocameras outside the residence date marked from several different months of this year and last, suggesting it was not, in fact, a one-day union project.
Photo via Matthew Pestronk
A few days ago, Matthew Pestronk, one of the two principals of the development company Post Brothers, called to tell us that almost every day there are men with videocameras outside of Rittenhouse Hill, one of the Post Brothers’ many developments. He claimed the men are members of IBEW Local 98, the electricians’ union. “They’re taping female residents coming in and out of our properties and making them very uncomfortable,” he said. “What does that have to do with anything?”
Unidentified union representative tells Mayor Nutter, "It's a human issue, not a union issue."
For the latest on our South Philly rowhome collapse news, go here. Meanwhile, yesterday got a little spicy between Axis Philly’s Tom Ferrick and the building trade unions–in particular on Marty Moss-Coane’s WHYY show Radio Times. The two men faced off on the question of a union monopoly after Ferrick penned a rather strong editorial titled “Organized Labor and Philly’s democratic leadership are one and the same.”
For longtime political watchers in Philadelphia, this is not exactly news. But Ferrick cites two examples of recent vintage that he finds especially disturbing, thus prompting, in part, his appearance on 91FM.
Since the building collapse at 22nd and Market, the building trades union, represented by Pat Gillespie, have been saying that if union labor had been on the job there, rather than non-union, the collapse would not have occurred. While this is obviously a terrific PR opportunity for the unions, Philly Mag’s Simon van Zuylen-Wood says the question is, in fact, moot due to the size of the job.
Let’s start the morning with a fun juxtaposition. In the photo above, there’s a union protester handing out fliers in front of the Federal Donuts on Sansom Street to alert patrons to the founding owner’s sometimes-employment of non-union labor. Just a few feet from the protester is a large sign that reads: “FEDERAL DONUTS: PROUDLY BUILT WITH 100 PERCENT UNION LABOR.”
Photo by Julia Rowe via Flickr
Despite the Pennsylvania Convention Center website touting “the superb quality of the design aesthetic, detailed down to custom-designed carpets with 15 different geometric patterns,” the expanded state-owned Convention Center that opened in March 2011 isn’t exactly the Taj Mahal. But the intention wasn’t to create a thing of great beauty; rather, it was to bring in significantly increased convention business, that would, in turn, grow hotel business and retail and restaurant as well. As a preview to the opening, the Philadelphia Inquirer asked a number of salient questions, some of them necessarily contradictory: Would all the taxpayer millions on the expansion be worth it in the end? Would there be enough hotels to fill the demand of increased conventioneers?
As Tom Ferrick points out in today’s column for AxisPhilly, worries about the latter question have turned out to be largely moot. He minces no words: “The newly expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center is turning out to be a dud. With a capital D-U-D.”
Photo by Ben Weldon for Philadelphia Magazine
Developer Matthew Pestronk, one-half of the Post Bros.–the company converting an old factory at 12th and Wood into the Goldtex Apartments–says he and his brother Mike did everything L&I told them to do before they held their VIP preview party last night at the building (for more on the party’s promotion, go here). It wasn’t a unique situation: Real estate developers often have previews of properties that aren’t entirely finished–hence the word “preview.” “There’s a body of compliance to get a temporary event permit,” said Matt today. “We spoke to L&I earlier in the week, and they assured us we got the permit. We did exactly what we were told to do.”
But when an L&I inspector came to the site at 4 p.m. yesterday, he told Matt, “L&I will not allow me to issue the permit.” The official reason Matt was given for the denial was the lack of a working fire protection system, but he said they’d addressed that. If a building does not yet have a sprinkler system, the people holding the event must have appropriate personnel on site to deal with fire emergencies. Matt says they did–”we take safety very seriously.”
Tonight is the VIP preview party for the opening of the Post Bros.’ Goldtex apartment building, and the invitations are as…stirring as the listings copy Post generates to advertise their rentals. It’s a curious space these fellows occupy: They’re pathbreaking developers who may have changed the way the unions operate for good, earning significant civic credibility; yet they’re also avid employers of deeply unserious frat-boy humor and Bikini Bandits-style marketing.
This VIP party, for example. Yeah, so there are hot women on the invite—big deal. As Matthew Pestronk said when we asked him about all the brothers’ somewhat salacious approach, sex sells. But the subject line for the email invite to the party was a bit bawdier than usual: “Come Polish Our Pearl,” it said. For those who don’t know what that means in sexual slanguage, let us enlighten you because idiomatic expressions of the carnal variety is what this blog is really about. After the jump, the definition and the full image of the invite, which is kind of NSFW.
Photo by Laura Kicey
There was no bigger development battle of 2012 than the one between Post Brothers Apartments, a development and management company run by Michael and Matthew Pestronk, and the Philadelphia building trades unions, who were angered by the brothers’ decision to employ a mix of union and non-union labor for the renovation of an old factory at 12th and Wood. Before all was said and done, bodily fluids and pornographic flyers had entered the picture, and the Pestronks had done something no other builders had ever accomplished.