The U.S. Department of Labor has accused the leaders of a powerful Philadelphia electricians union of intimidating challengers so they could run unopposed in last year's board elections.
The lawsuit, announced Friday, takes aim at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 and business manager John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. He and five others are set to go on trial in March on charges they stole more than $600,000 in union funds.
The Labor Department now wants to void the election and force a new one. According to the lawsuit, Dougherty warned one potential challenger it would be “a long three years” if he lost.
In a statement, IBEW Local 98 spokesman Frank Keel called the lawsuit an attempt to "smear" Dougherty and the union.
"John and the other duly-elected Local 98 officers want to have an election and look forward to their day in court. The union has never been stronger than it is currently, which is the reason no one ran against the incumbent team," Keel said.
Dougherty has led the 5,000-member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 since 1993 and more recently took the helm of the city’s Building Trades Council, with 70,000 members. He has steered $30 million raised by the local electricians union to mostly Democratic candidates in the last decade alone.