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NJ Politician Steve Sweeney Will Run Embattled Phila. Ironworkers’ Local

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(NJ state senate president Steve Sweeney, in 2011 file photo.  Photo by KYW's David Madden)

(NJ state senate president Steve Sweeney, in 2011 file photo. Photo by KYW’s David Madden)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  New Jersey state senate president Steve Sweeney has taken over adminisration of Philadelphia’s ironworkers’ local, after its president and nine members were indicted for strongarming non-union contractors (see related story).

And Sweeney may be running the union for quite a while.

He takes on the role because he’s the regional vice president for the Ironworkers International, and says his job is to restore the local’s reputation.

Non-union contractors say the indictment was pretty much in keeping with the local’s reputation.

“This type of behavior in varying degrees has been going on for decades,” says Rob Reeves, builder of a Quaker Meetinghouse in Chestnut Hill that was vandalized after a run-in with union ironworkers.  He thinks it will take a clean sweep to right the union.

But local labor leaders say that’s unfair.

Philadelphia AFL-CIO chief Pat Eiding says most contractors want union ironworkers because their work is superior.  And as for accusations by Reeves, and now federal prosecutors, Eiding says, “I would expect we’re going to find a whole lot of it is not true.”

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