Union Rejects SEPTA Contract Offer, Wants Binding Arbitration

The last of several union contracts with SEPTA expires on April 6, and the head of the Transit Workers Union told the Daily News Thursday he’s not taking the current offer.

[TWU Local 234 president Willie] Brown told the Daily News yesterday that he won’t accept SEPTA’s initial offer of a five-year contract with no raises during 2014 and 2015, a 6 percent raise spread over the next three years, increased employee contributions to health care and no pension plan for new hires.

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There Is No Reason “Amateur” Athletes Shouldn’t Be Paid

Kentucky's Marcus Lee, left, and Michigan's Jordan Morgan go after a rebound during the first half of an NCAA Midwest Regional final college basketball tournament game Sunday, March 30, 2014, in Indianapolis. Photo | Michael Conroy, Associated Press

Kentucky’s Marcus Lee, left, and Michigan’s Jordan Morgan go after a rebound during the first half of an NCAA Midwest Regional final college basketball tournament game Sunday, March 30, 2014, in Indianapolis. Photo | Michael Conroy, Associated Press

Like Kurtis Blow, basketball is my favorite sport. I, too, like the way they dribble up and down the court.

Basketball’s a sport I enjoy at every level. I love the NFL, but I don’t care much for college football. Minor league baseball is even more boring than major league baseball. But I could watch pretty much every level of basketball: High-level NBA games on TV. Big 5 games at the Palestra. High school games in crumbling Philly gyms. Pick-up games on 10th Street. Little kid games at halftime of the Sixers. Everything is great!

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Johnny Doc Is Starting a Think Tank

Still from the commercial

John Dougherty was rendered in ghostly form in a commercial for a documentary that was critical of Mayor Nutter.

Well, here’s a development I wasn’t expecting: Union boss John Dougherty has announced that he’s starting a think tank to explore the topic of electing a pro-union mayor in 2015. Nutter — long seen as a union foe (only in Philly) — presented a problem for organized labor when he first came up for election: He was a fairly typical big-city Democrat, which by definition, makes him pro-labor. The problem? Unlike most others who run for office in this town (looking at you, City Council), he didn’t feel he had to rely heavily on union support in order to get elected. How did that happen?

In Tom Ferrick’s new Publius column, “Welcome to Fantasy Island,” he explains:

According to union leader John Dougherty, it was because the city’s labor unions were split over whom to endorse. As a result, Michael Nutter slipped up the middle and got himself elected.

Since then, various union officials have linked Nutter to famed Wisconsin union bogeyman Gov. Scott Walker and to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, among other noted personages, simply because, as Ferrick puts it, “in his role of mayor of a city of 1.5 million people,” he attempted to “seek concessions from city employees and teachers in contract talks in the name of preserving the city’s scant resources.”

That is not a treasonable offense, not in most other jurisdictions in the United States of America. Here it is. Anyone who enunciates a slight variation in the orthodoxy is considered a heretic. You are either 100 percent for the unions or you are 100 percent against them.

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Pennsylvania Union Members Free to Stalk, Harass — For Now

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There’s a fascinating story in today’s Inquirer by Jeremy Roebuck, detailing the Pennsylvania law that exempts union members in labor disputes from prosecution for stalking, harassment and terroristic threats. Hot dog! And here I thought fair pay and better working conditions were the only benefits of joining a union.

The exemption dates back to the New Deal 1930s, and Republican State Rep. Ron Miller says Pennsylvania “might be the only state to still have an exception like this.” At a hearing last year, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Frank Snyder defended the law — but worried the exemption could be used to shield employers. (No word on what William Green would think it.)

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Huge News: Union Leaders Arrested

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It’s probably just a temporary hiccup, knowing Philadephia, but for the moment 10 members of Ironworkers Local Union 401 are in hot water. This morning, according to NBC 10, “more than 100 FBI agents, prosecutors and Philadelphia Police officers teamed up” to make the arrests — that’s a 10 to 1 ratio to nab what U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger characterized as “goon squads.”

The reason for the arrest is because of the vandalism and violence the Local has employed to protest construction sites that use non-union labor, including “assaults, arsons and other violent, and destructive, acts to make their point emphatically clear,” according to Memeger. That point? “You better hire local ironworker union members or you will pay a heavy price.”

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Are the Union Protests at the Trolley Car Diner Legal?

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Yesterday we wrote about IBEW Local 98, the electricians’ union, protesting in front of developer Ken Weinstein’s Trolley Car Diner — where, Weinstein alleges, flyers with his photograph and cell phone number were distributed. That may be bad form, and an invasion of privacy, but it’s run-of-the-mill kind of stuff from Philly unions. As far as we know, distributing the phone number is not illegal.

But the protests themselves are more open to question. Weinstein is the developer of a preservation/restoration project at 6000 Wayne Avenue, which — just to be clear — is not the address of the Trolley Car Diner. The building at that location, like many that Weinstein develops, is vacant but historical, with a Frank Furness pedigree. Weinstein is planning to turn that building into a school, and he has hired a general contractor from the area, McCoubrey/Overholser, to do the construction and to hire subcontractors to do specialized work, like the electrical.

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Union Protests At Trolley Car Diner Because They Are Angry About Something Different Than Trolley Car Diner

detail of st pete's

Detail of the church in question. Original photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia.

Real estate developer and Trolley Car Diner owner Ken Weinstein sent out an email to many, many people (from Pete Hoskins to Terry Gillen) to alert them to a…disagreement he’s having with the IBEW over his construction of a Waldorf School campus on Wayne Avenue in Germantown. Weinstein says the diner has been subject to union protests outside.

The president of Weinstein Properties and Philly Office Retail, Weinstein isn’t a newbie to development; he’s been in the business for 24 years, and currently owns and manages 500,000-plus square feet of commercial space. Additionally, Weinstein has been something of an eatery investor, founding (and selling) the Cresheim Cottage Cafe, and buying up the Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy and Trolley Car Cafe in East Falls — the two neighborhoods, along with Germantown, into which he puts most of his energies.

Before we look at the union battle, let’s assess Weinstein’s latest project: the conversion of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church — designed by Frank Furness and George Hewitt — on the 6000 block of Wayne Avenue.

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Property’s Philebrity Awards Picks

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Each year the website Philebrity solicits votes for its annual awards, which include categories ranging from General Fabulousness to Non-Profit of the Year. This year there are several contenders who speak to Property’s mission. They are people and organizations who make significant, consistent contributions to the discourse around Philadelphia’s built environment, who promote design and architecture, who advocate to make the city a better place to live, who educate its residents. We can’t speak to Phoodie of the Year, but we chose our winners in categories we feel are relevant.

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Unions Release TV Spot With Johnny Doc Cartoon Ghost to “Haunt” Post Brothers

Still from the commercial

Still from the commercial

The union siege against the Post Brothers continues, and it just gets more surreal. For Halloween, IBEW Local 98 is releasing a commercial “featuring a ‘ghostly’ cartoon version of John J. Dougherty” to promote its film about the Post Brothers’ Goldtex Apartments. The commercial also has another goal: “taking time to remind parents to check their kids’ Halloween treats before allowing them to eat them.”

That’s such a bizarre pairing of agendas, we don’t even know what to say.

The commercial will air tonight during the Flyers game (know your audience — that’s lesson No. 1) and will terrify and confuse children watching “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on Halloween on ABC. It’ll also air, according to the press release, on AMC, Comedy Central, ABC Family, FX, SPIKE and SYFY.

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