Monthly Archives: June 2014

FBI: Racketeering and Arson Charges Filed Against Members of Ironworkers Union – Places of Worship Among Arson Targets

by Michael D. Robbins
Director, Public Safety Project,

Labor unions have a long history of violent crime in the U.S., including racketeering, harassment, intimidation, extortion, sabotage, arson, assault, murder, mass-murder, domestic terrorism, and more. This legacy of union thuggery continues to this day for many labor unions, and the guilty often go unpunished and are allowed to continue their anti-social criminal behavior.

Although some news reporters dubbed the O. J. Simpson double-murder trial as “the trial of the century”, another far more significant though shorter trial was given that label early in the twentieth century.

The McNamara brothers, James B. McNamara and John J. McNamara, were active in the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, a labor union headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. The union organized and represented workers in the construction industry, and was particularly active on the West Coast. Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis used his newspaper to accuse the union of being responsible for the dynamiting of construction sites that used non-union labor.

On October 1, 1910, in an act of domestic terrorism and mass-murder, a bomb exploded in the Los Angeles Times downtown printing plant building, murdering 20 people and causing considerable damage to the building. Soon after that, there was another bombing at the Llewellyn Iron Works in Los Angeles.

Evidence was found linking the two McNamara brothers to these bombings, and they were put on trial. The trial began on December 1, 1911. James B. McNamara ultimately admitted to bombing the Times building, and John J. McNamara confessed to dynamiting the Llewellyn Iron Works. On December 5, 1911, Judge Walter Bordwell sentenced James McNamara to life in prison, and John McNamara to 15 years in prison.

In a more recent case of union thuggery and terrorism, an indictment was unsealed on February 18, 2014 and arrests were made in a case charging 10 members of the Ironworkers Local 401 union with allegedly participating in a conspiracy to commit criminal acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property, and assault in order to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers.

“The strong-arm tactics we have seen in this case are outrageous and brazen,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Hanko, adding that “violence, intimidation, arson, and sabotage are crimes which won’t be tolerated. This investigation has been wide-ranging, but it is far from over. Now that this indictment has been unsealed, we expect to hear from more victims and will aggressively pursue all other leads we receive.”

If convicted of all charges, four of the 10 defendants each face a mandatory minimum term of 35 years in prison up to a statutory maximum of 130 years.

The indictment charges RICO conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, three counts of arson, two counts of use of fire to commit a felony, and conspiracy to commit arson. RICO refers to 18 U.S. Code Chapter 96Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.

Eight of the 10 individuals named in the indictment are charged with conspiring to use Ironworkers Local 401 as an enterprise to commit criminal acts. The indictment details incidents in which the defendants threatened or assaulted contractors or their employees and damaged construction equipment and job sites as part of a concerted effort to force contractors to hire and pay Local 401 workers, even when those workers performed no function. Among the criminal acts set forth in the indictment is the December 2012 arson of a Quaker Meetinghouse under construction in Philadelphia. … Continue reading

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