After decades of terrorizing any developer, private or pubic, who dare screw in a light bulb without consulting a union, the city has remained silent. Despite public opinion, the region's trade unions reign is formidable and elected officials have routinely allowed them to operate within their own unofficial City Hall.
The Feds have another opinion. After ironworkers allegedly torched a Quaker construction site last year - you read that right, Quaker - the FBI has arrested ten members of Local 401 including its leader Joseph Dougherty.
The media is having a field day with the group which apparently referred to itself as "the helpful union guys," or T.H.U.G.S. But don't let journalistic romance, and its readers' short attention spans fool you. This is huge. The arrests coincide with the completion of Post Brothers' Goldtex Apartments, which succeeded despite an absence of union labor and leaders unwilling to compromise.
Federal attention on Philadelphia's notoriously difficult unions could be promising to a slew of proposed projects which otherwise intended to deal with the demons of doing business here. While developers in New York and Chicago are often backed with the funds to face unions, Philadelphia and Rust Belt towns are left with sensible proposals at the mercy of union extortion.
If the Mafioso tactics often employed by unions, allegedly or otherwise, are reigned in by the Feds, cities like Philadelphia could enjoy the growth Southern and West Coast cities continue to see despite a lack of pharmaceuticals, universities, and Comcast. Just imagine a Philadelphia skyline that plays by the same rules as Atlanta.