A former union boss is on trial in Philadelphia in a labor intimidation case that features the Christmas week arson of a Quaker meeting house.
Federal prosecutors told a jury Monday that longtime ironworkers leader Joseph Dougherty had goon squads threaten non-union builders and destroy their jobsites.
Authorities say the 2008 recession left him desperate to find work for about 1,000 local ironworkers.
Eleven underlings have pleaded guilty and admitted they took part in the December 2012 meeting house arson or destroyed other property.
The 73-year-old Dougherty is the only man to go on trial Monday. He faces a long prison term if convicted of racketeering, extortion and other charges.
Defense lawyer Fortunato Perri Jr. says Dougherty didn’t invent union “night work,” and is not responsible for his co-defendants’ crimes.