Philadelphia labor leader sends City Council an extraordinary letter

The letter opposed a controversial affordable housing bill, but went beyond that.

Pat Loeb
June 09, 2018 - 9:30 pm
John Dougherty

KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- As city council members debated a controversial affordable housing bill, last week, they received an extraordinary letter from a prominent labor leader. The letter opposed the bill but went beyond that.

Building Trades leader John Dougherty called the bill ill-conceived and said it would end the city's building boom, then took on other issues that have been percolating, such as charges that unions discriminate against women and minorities.

"It's a fallacy," Dougherty said. "I'm going to start calling them on it."

The letter details the programs the unions have to attract and employ men and women of color and underscores it with the assertion that council members' requests for campaign funds outstrips their recommendations of minority youth for employment by 50 to 1. It also says the unions have hired a firm to audit the 10-year tax abatement to see if contractors taking advantage of it are operating legally, employing minority workers and what campaign contributions they've made.

"I don't have a reaction," said City Council President Darrell Clarke. "I have no response."

Clarke seemed unfazed, but Dougherty says other council people have reached out to talk about it.

"It's definitely got everyone's attention," Dougherty said.