Friday, June 10, 2005

Oh, yeah?

I was in the 2000 block of Sansom Street walking East a couple of days ago and I saw, posted, several leaflets from the Carpenters’ Union asking people not to patronize a new Sansom street comedy club - Helium - because the owner used non-union carpenters.

Yesterday, I was walking in the same area. A guy was handing out these leaflets. He held one out for me to take. As I walked by I said, “No, thanks I’ve already got one.” He replied, “Yeah? Well I don’t see none in your hand.” I stopped. I turned to him and corrected myself, “What I meant to say was I’ve already seen the flyer.” Then, from him, “OK, well, don’t let me catch you in there.” I said nothing, just turned and walked away. I didn’t think much about it until an hour or so later - and then it hit me: I’ve just been threatened by a scumbag! And the more I thought about what these asswipes were trying to do, namely, shut down a fledgling business, the angrier I got.

Perhaps he was “joking”. Perhaps. Not likely, though. It is just this behavior of the unions, the not-so-veiled threats - the attempts at intimidation - that I am no longer prepared to tolerate. It’s one thing to have an intellectual conversation and bemoan the economic damage that excessively generous public contracts cause. It is quite another to actually be the guy with a finger in his chest being told, “Don’t go in there…or else.”

I am now determined to do whatever I can to support non-union businesses in Philadelphia.

I am, within the next seven days, going to go to Helium and spend at least $50. And I hope there are a couple of those guys out front because I’m going to tell them exactly why I’m going in. In fact, I am going to try and get a group together to go with me so I can bring in as much money for this new club as I can.

It's bad enough for an individual trying to start a business and keep down costs to be threatened like this. What is unforgiveable is to bring a city of over a million people to its knees. This the unions have done repeatedly. What is crystal clear is that for the future of Philadelphia, the big unions: Teamsters, Carpenters, Roofers, Electricians, Teachers, etc. must be systematically dismantled. Until they renounce their thuggish tactics and are brought to heel, cities like Philadelphia will continue to crumble under the fiscal weight of the ridiculously generous contracts that these unions are able to extort from City Hall.

What is particularly galling is that this behavior will not likely be stopped by enforcing law, because even if they are caught in illegal acts, like threatening people, the police (because they are another big union) often refuse to intervene and do their jobs. (In one disgusting episode in Philly several years back, teamsters beat a guy bloody while half a dozen cops stood by and just watched.) If anything is going to change it has to start with the people. Well, I am standing up now. Nobody threatens me. Nobody.

Helium Comedy Club – 2031 Sansom Street. Who’s with me?


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