Recommended Reading: Steve Volk’s Glimpse At Philly’s Post-Union-Goons Future

It’s a funny thing that came with the new year: Whether it’s been taking a look at the grotesqueries of The Mummers or the nearly-quaint tantrumizing of Philly’s union goons, it’s become clear to us Philly is ever more steeped in a culture war, and the entire fate of this city is at stake. On the one side, there’s enlightened natives and transplants with fresh eyes; on the other, there’s the old network of players and moves and prejudices that have been keeping this city down since before we were born. Us vs. The Slobs, if you will. And perhaps the best articulation of any of this that we’ve seen — especially as far as Philly’s increasingly toxic union culture is concerned, where backroom deals, strongarming and outright felonious bullying have been the norm for decades — is in this bit from the end of Steve Volk‘s piece on The Goldtex Building from back in November:

Philadelphia is at a tipping point—teetering on the verge of its own Arab Spring. On its face, any analogy with recent revolutions in the Middle East might seem overstated. There is less at stake in Philadelphia—no actual dictators to overthrow. But the Trades have long served as a kind of shadow government, picking many of our leaders for us and even determining what we can build. In these terms, any dollar the Trades lose is a dollar less they can use to buy political heft. Any movement that deprives them of power is re­volutionary—opening new channels by which Philadelphia might grow its economy and choose its elected officials. And this city’s revolution may well move in the same way that change came to the Middle East, one domino toppling into the next, one non-union job leading to another.

It’s not just recommended reading: It’s essential reading. Because whether it’s the newspapers or the firefighters, there’s plenty more of this where that came from.

  • goon

    More hipster entitlement bullshit, you didn’t build this city you just
    moved to it after the factories closed. The low rents and your trust
    funds allow you to live your lame lifestyle in a city built off the
    blood and sweat of the very people you criticize as “Goons” . Get a
    real job Blogger..

  • philebrity

    hahaha okay buddy.

  • Guest

    I have the conflict that (I’m guessing) many progressive and rational people have: I admire unions, in general, for the progress they made in taking power from business owners and returning it to workers. Seems like the situation is exactly reversed in Philadelphia now. Power is entirely in the hands of the unions (and their old-boy-network developer friends), who are willing to go to great (read: unethical, illegal, violent) lengths to retain it. Sounds awfully familiar to anyone who knows anything about the history of unions in this country.

    I have trouble cheering for wealthy developers, union-busting, and unfettered free markets (and I’m not, believe me)… but there has to be a sane middle ground. I just have trouble picturing what that would look like at this point. Unions that thrive and provide for their members, bidding for jobs in a (more) open market… it can’t be that hard, can it?

  • philebrity

    Very, very well put.

  • bo26

    “Us v The Slobs” isn’t a good way to phrase it. As another commenter puts it, there has to be a sane middle ground. Name calling isn’t going to bring people together for a rational discussion. Words like that are what the other side will use to argue that people who want change are outsiders who “don’t get it” and that hurts the rest of us Philadelphians, native and transplant, who want a better city.