Non-Union Worker Accuses Philly Union Boss of Attacking Him During Street Fight

A spokesperson for John Dougherty is speaking out after a non-union electrician accused the Philly Union boss of assaulting him during a street fight last month.

Joshua Keesee, a 36-year-old non-union electrician, told police he was working at a job in South Philadelphia that was being picketed by Dougherty’s IBEW Local 98 back on January 21. Keesee said he was on the 1300 block of South 3rd Street around 8:30 a.m. that day when he was approached by Dougherty and three other men. Keesee told police they began arguing over a union sticker that was attached to his vehicle.

Keesee said the argument escalated into violence and accused Dougherty and the three men of punching and kicking him. He then said they fled in a Lincoln Navigator. Keesee refused medical treatment but still filed a police report which prompted an investigation.

Jim Reid, the owner of Reid’s Auto Service which is located near where the altercation took place, told NBC10 he witnessed the aftermath of the fight.

“I open up the door, I seen a skirmish out there and that was it,” Reid said. “The fight happened down the street.”

A video of the aftermath shows a man being pulled by another man along 3rd street as Dougherty and three to four men walk towards them. A man walking with Dougherty also appears to be bleeding from his head.

Keesee’s attorney Robert Mozenter told NBC10 the altercation stemmed from the fact that his client is not a union worker.

“It’s clearly a labor issue,” Mozenter said. “What is a union boss doing on the street at 8:15? Dougherty approached him, hit him with a left that broke his nose and a right that was partially blocked. The other men jumped in and pummeled him.”

Dougherty’s spokesman Frank Keel told NBC10 the union boss was acting in self-dense however after Keesee threatened him. Keel released the following statement on the altercation:

On January 21, 2016, John Dougherty, while on his way to work in full business attire, was involved in a brief, physical altercation with a contractor at a notorious, non-union job site in South Philadelphia. There were multiple eyewitnesses. John Dougherty was not the aggressor. ‎

A non-union contractor on-site, who was half John's age, made verbal threats in front of John, saying he knew where John's wife took her daily walk and the location of  John's daughter's home. John told the contractor that if he had a problem, he should deal with John alone. At that point, the contractor rushed John and threw a punch at his head. This happened after the contractor had already sucker-punched one of the Local 98 protestors on the site, which required stitches for the Local 98 member.

John Dougherty ducked the contractor's punch and countered with a punch to the assailant's face. That was the end of the incident. We firmly believe that there should be no criminal or civil charges filed in this matter, as John Dougherty acted purely in self-defense.

Dougherty is a well-known union boss who is also politically active. He’s made campaign contributions to both Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams as well as Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Williams sent the case to Kane to avoid appearance of conflict. Kane’s office also released a statement on the investigation Tuesday.

“In the matter of John Dougherty, Attorney General Kane has set up a conflict wall regarding the decision to accept or deny the referral and/or initiate charges,” a spokesperson wrote. “This action was taken to avoid the appearance of a conflict due to the high profile nature of Mr. Dougherty, who was a donor to Attorney General Kane in 2013. The Office of Attorney General employs capable attorneys who are prepared to make the decision whether to accept and/or prosecute a potential assault case."

Keesee’s attorney meanwhile told NBC10 he’s preparing to file a civil lawsuit.

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