It is fair to say the upscale, yet quaint, Philadelphia neighborhood of Chestnut Hill is not used to union thugs committing arson in their sleepy town. However, police are “now absolutely sure” the burning of the site of the new $5.8 million meetinghouse of Chestnut Hill Friends on Dec. 20 was “the work of disgruntled union members,” according to a report in Philly.com.
The peaceful Quaker group of Chestnut Hill Friends showed pride in building the new meetinghouse on its website:
Nearly 330 years ago, in accord with the Quaker principles of universal tolerance and respect for all, William Penn founded Pennsylvania as a place of refuge for people of all religions. In that spirit, Chestnut Hill Friends are building the first new meetinghouse in Philadelphia in 80 years as a spiritual home for our members and as an inviting place for visitors. By incorporating a James Turrell Skyspace, our new home is also intended as a peaceful refuge where people of all faiths can sit together in quiet contemplation.
An article in RedState explained, “because bids from union contractors were 23% higher than the winning bid, the Quakers chose to use a union-free contractor,” which angered Philadelphia’s unions.
Philly.com reported on the night of Dec. 20, “Vandals with an acetylene torch crept onto the project’s muddy construction site in the middle of the night. Working out of view in the meetinghouse’s freshly cemented basement, they sliced off dozens of bolts securing the bare steel columns and set fire to the building crane, causing $500,000 in damage. Police detectives deemed the attack arson because of a series of confrontational visits from union officials days before the incident. They say the torch could only have been operated by a trained professional, and believe it was almost certainly the work of disgruntled union members.”
Now, because there have been no arrests made in this case, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter said on its website they are “offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and the felony conviction of the person(s) responsible for damages at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting in Philadelphia.”
RedState reported that union boss, Pat Gillespie, denied involvement to the New York Times:
Pat Gillespie, business manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents about 60,000 construction workers, rejected suggestions that members were responsible. He said that the relatively small project would not generate enough work to explain any such attack, and that union members would not want to jeopardize chances of future work by alienating potential employers.
Let’s hope the police can find the evidence needed to hold these union bullies responsible and bring justice to the Chestnut Hill Friends.