Union official testifies against ex-boss, describes violence

A racketeering trial under way in Philadelphia reveals the vandalism and violence waged by local union members as they struggled to find work.

Seventy-three-year-old Joseph Dougherty is the former head of the longtime ironworkers union. He is the lone person left on trial after 11 members pleaded guilty.

A top lieutenant is testifying against Dougherty on Wednesday as part of his plea.

Edward Sweeney says he had to flex his muscles to keep Philadelphia a union town.

Sweeney admits his union damaged rival job sites and set fire to a Quaker meeting house built with nonunion labor.

Sweeney says he usually told Dougherty about the so-called “nightwork” afterward.

The defense says Dougherty didn’t invent the practice, and isn’t responsible for other people’s crimes. He faces years in prison if convicted.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal