Post Brothers Apartments Struggle With the Philadelphia Building Trades Unions




Facts About Fairness

     A Top Quality Workforce

     Representative of Philadelphia

     Honest Wages for Honest Work

     Where does the Money Go?

     Post Cares about the Community

How Union “Negotiations” Work

     Union Tactics: Public Disparagement

     Union Tactics: Influence

     Union Tactics: Bullying

     Union Tactics: Violence and Vandalism

Why The Unions Are So Upset

Hurting Their Workers and the Community


The Philadelphia Construction Unions (aka “Building and Construction Trades Council” or “Philadelphia Building Trades Union”) are engaged in a relentless campaign to publicly vilify Post Brothers for “destroying communities” and being “unfair” to construction workers.

In addition, many Unions have employed constant and ruthless property damage and physical assault in order to do everything physically possible to halt the progress of construction on our development projects.

We go out of our way to try to work with the Philadelphia Building Trades Unions, and the Unions’ publicly defamatory actions are completely untrue and unwarranted. We are proud of our local, competitively paid work force and our role in the development of the communities in which we are active.

Despite the activities of the Philadelphia Building Trade Unions, Post Brothers Apartments is not an “anti-union” company – we routinely use Philadelphia Building Trade Union contractors, and we support the general principles behind the creation of unions including fair treatment of workers, which has long been forgotten by the Philadelphia Building Trade Unions.

Facts About Fairness

A Top-Quality Workforce

Despite the Union’s false assertions, we hold our workforce to the highest standards of quality and safety. Below are some notable facts about our workforce:

•We do not employ any unqualified, undocumented, underpaid workers

•Our entire workforce is highly skilled, well-paid, and well-insured.

•Every worker is OSHA-trained

•We have never received a fine for safety violations

Representative of Philadelphia

The majority of our crews are Philadelphia residents, and we employ men and women with a racial mix similar to that of Philadelphia as a whole, both of which would be impossible to do using exclusively Union contractors.

In fact our hiring goals are based on representing the community in which we work:

•Philadelphia Minority Population:                                      55%

•Carpenters Union Minority Members:                               19%

Post Brothers Construction Workforce Minorities:    65%

Most of the members of the “Philadelphia” building trade unions are in fact residents of Delaware and Chester counties or New Jersey, and do not contribute back to the city nearly as much as our workforce:

•Building Unions Workforce City of Phila Residents:            30%

Post Bros Construction Workforce City Residents:   75%

Honest Wages for Honest Work

Despite the actions of the Union leadership, Post does not exclude Union contractors who are the most appropriate for the job. In fact, the number of Union workers we employ is consistent with the total percentage of Union workers in the city:

•Total Philadelphia Construction Workforce Union Membership:     32%

Post Average Union Workforce Participation:                      34%

The wages, including Union overhead, demanded by many Philadelphia Construction Unions are in no way “fair.”They are completely out of line with fair open-market rates in Philadelphia; and they are far in excess of the wages that are determined “fair” by the US Government in more expensive cities.

•Phila. Carpenters Union Hourly Billing Rate:         $63

Post Brothers Carpenters Billing Rate:          $35-45

•Washington DC Davis-Bacon Carpenters Rate:     $34

*Note: The cost of living in Washington DC is 12% higher than in Philadelphia, however the rate mandated for Carpenters on taxpayer funded projects in DC is only 54% as much as Philadelphia, or only 48% as much adjusted for cost of living differences. Anyone provided the facts can clearly determine that the wages demanded by the Philadelphia Unions are completely unreasonable ( a carpenter costs more than the average professional with a masters degree), and the wages paid by Post are well above a “liveable” standard and well above average for the open market in the area.

Where Does the Money Go?

Union construction workers are not the prime beneficiaries of this hourly wage cost delta. Rather than being passed on to the workforce, a very large portion goes to Union overhead, to keep the existing Union officials in power.

Last year alone the salaries of the leadership of the Philadelphia Building Trade Unions and their political donations were $140 million.

Union construction workers do not receive net pay significantly more than Post’s workforce. In fact, they often receive lower net pay.

Post Cares about Community

Post Brothers also has an exemplary track record of community cooperation and participation (see more here), making the Unions’ claims of Post damaging the community completely without merit. Post Brothers’ efforts in Philadelphia have had a positive effect on the city’s overall economic development:

•Post Brothers has brought more than $125 million of investments to Philadelphia from out of town private capital sources in the last two years

• Its investments have led to  more than 500 construction jobs, and nearly 100 permanent jobs,

•It has brought millions of tax dollars to the city government, all without taking any subsidies whatsoever.

How Union “Negotiations” Work

Post always bids the work on its construction projects to both union and non-union contractors. Often times a union contractor is the most qualified and cost effective, and we routinely employ building trade union contractors on our projects.

Because we are aware of the reaction we will receive from unions when we hire non-union contractors, we go to further lengths to try to accommodate union contractors. We regularly meet with the ‘business agents’ of the building trade unions to try to negotiate and always offer a ‘last look’ to match the price of the most qualified and cost effective contractor (if that contractor is non-union).

Sometimes, union officials act professionally and tell us in a straightforward way whether or not they would like to do the project, and that’s all we hear from them until the next project we bid. Other times however, Philadelphia Building Trades Union officials start public campaigns intended to vilify Post Brothers while also engaging in private bullying. If they don’t get what they want, they then issue an ultimatum: go all Union (at a price often 30% – 70% higher than the fair market rate) or prepare for the Union to do everything possible to stop your project.

Union Tactics: Public Disparagement

Many Philadelphia Building Trade Unions start negotiations with “bannering” and “handbilling” If the unions know non-union contractors are bidding on the project, they stand around with banners and pass out flyers, even during the bidding phase before a project is rewarded.

We of course respect their right to free speech and do not take issue with bannering or handbilling over a legitimate business dispute. However we do take issue with the Philadelphia Construction Unions’ banner and flyer activities because:

1)Many of the statements on these materials are defamatory personal attacks and outright lies. (See below examples of the bad mouthing of a deceased pet; and the wife of one of the Post brothers, in a doctored photo performing a sex act.)

2)These activities are not over a legitimate business dispute. The men doing the bannering and flyering are not “striking workers”. The picketers are out of work union members, organized by union officials to pressure the developer/general contractor into paying non-competitive prices for construction work and also trying to intimidate the project’s workers.

3)The locations where the bannering is taking place is not relevant to the dispute – many have taken place at random high traffic areas of the city, and routinely take place at employees homes. These actions are against the Unions’ own rules established through the National Labor Relations Board rules on picketing and handbilling activities.

4)These activities are almost always accompanied by trespass on our property, and often vandalism

Here are examples of some of the Unions’ flyers and banners:



Union Tactics: Influence

It is an unfortunate and accepted fact among the Philadelphia construction, legal, and political communities that the Building Trade Unions exert influence through a select group of employees within the city and government agencies responsible for the approval and oversight of development. Building Trade Union officials lobby very strongly for city support to be withheld from projects using non-union labor, or developers or contractors who have been known to use non-union labor. However, it is a testament to the good nature of most of the people working in these agencies that they are not influenced and are honest advocates for fair development in the city.

The Philadelphia Building Trade Unions are able to exert this influence due to the massive tax charged to the users of their workforce for “Union Overhead”, above the wages paid to their workforce.

Last year in Philadelphia, the top 15 construction Unions spent $140 million on salaries for the officers of the unions and political lobbying and donations, which came out of Union dues that would otherwise go to benefits or net pay to their workforce.

The Philadelphia Building Trade Union officials also try, and sometimes succeed, to exert influence by ‘scaring off’ financial partners, including both banks and equity investors. The tactics typically include asking for financial partners to withdraw support by threatening towithdraw union pension funds from management by banks or investors; harassment and vague threats, picketing, and sometimes direct physical threats.

Union Tactics: Bullying

Unfortunately, some Philadelphia Building Trades Unions operatives engage in behavior that is far more malicious than public vilification and bureaucratic influence. The more benign consequences of the Union doing “everything possible to stop the project” are:

•Threats of physical assault to the principals, key employees, and construction personnel of Post

•Blocking the entrance of people and deliveries to the building

•Physically bullying our professional service providers – eg architects

•Intimidation of female employees not involved in construction

EG: In February 2012, a day after Post brought a crane to a construction site (an action which enraged the Unions) a union picketer said to a female employee in the property management department “Don’t you live on XXXXX avenue?” – which was the street she lived on. The implication was clear that he “knew where she lived”. Later that same evening, another female employee in the property management department arrived home to find a car parked in front of her building, which started taking pictures of her at a very close range and then sped off.

•Personal attacks on female family members not involved in the business:  the pregnant wife of one Post Brother is routinely followed taking their toddler to pre-school by picketers who blatantly picket in front of their house on a near-daily basis. 

•Harassing neighbors  by driving around the neighborhood with bullhorns on a truck

•Continuous petty property and car vandalism

Union Tactics: Violence and Vandalism

The Philadelphia Building Trade Unions have then escalated their actions to include:

•Frequent violent physical assaults of our employees and subcontractors

•Slashing the tires of and throwing rocks and breaking all windows of delivery trucks, beating the drivers, and destroying the contents of the delivery

•Breaking down fences and barriers and storming our construction sites in a riot

•Destroying cranes, cutting elevator cables, shooting out windows, and other major financially damaging and life threatening property damage

These are serious and violent crimes committed by Philadelphia Building Trade Union members and officials.

See videos of Union officials physically assaulting our workers, illegally blocking construction, spilling environmentally dangerous chemicals, and more!

Why The Unions Are So Upset

The Philadelphia Construction Unions have no legitimate business dispute with us, and their actions are based on a turf warfare / gang mentality. We are more than fair to our workforce and communities.

Their actions are solely an underhanded attempt to gain work based not on competitive bidding, but through bullying and extortion.

On our Goldtex project, nearly half of the entire job had been awarded to Union subcontractors. However before work began, the Union officials told their members who had been awarded parts of the project that they would not be permitted to work on our project, because we would not agree to make the project 100% Union. The Building Trades Unions unreasonably took away over 100 jobs from their members because the Union leadership thought their attempt to bully us would work.

To be abundantly clear there is no law requiring the use of Union construction labor in Philadelphia. The whole argument is as absurd as it sounds: an organization which uses frequently illegal tactics that add up to a pattern of extremely clear extortion to dominate the construction industry at wages that are much higher than those that are accepted by workers and contractors that are fairly and transparently bid. Their actions are tolerated largely because of an accepted entrenched mentality and the fact that they indisputably are by far the largest contributors to local and state politics.

Hurting Their Workers and the Community

Throughout the life of our Goldtex construction project, the unions have on average had 20 men per day bannering at multiple sites in the city. On high activity days, that number has risen to 200. Since the beginning of our work on Goldtex, is the unions have spent approximately 130,000 man-hours picketing us. (The business agents doing the picketing get paid a full salary to picket, but the members do not). The vast difference between fair market wages and the wages demanded by the Unions (including overhead to Union leadership) on this project was $7 million. At fair market wages, the union spent ~$6.5 million of time picketing our project. If they had been willing to negotiate reasonably, the unions would have eliminated that cost and their members could have been working and receiving fair-market wages rather than being paid less than fair market wages to picket.

Over the last 2 years, Philadelphia construction trade union members have been out of work nearly 50% of the time. If the union leadership would let them work for a fair market wage, there would be far more opportunity for work. Projects would become more feasible, therefore increasing the amount of active projects at a given time, resulting in full employment for the unions, and far more net pay to the entire Union membership.

The development community will openly agree that construction costs in the city discourage new development by corporate users and real estate developers, thereby repressing land prices at 1980’s levels. Philadelphia is held back from becoming a top-tier American city by vertical construction costs which are unsupportable by market rents and the entrenchment of the unions’ interests in our political administration which cause a perception of Philadelphia as a city too difficult to do business in.


Our dispute is solely with the organized extortion being carried out by the Building Trade Unions management. They are trying to force a majority of non-local workers onto our projects, and force us to pay a huge tax to sustain the Unions’ power structure. The unmatched public defamation of our company, harassment, bullying, vandalism, racism, property damage, and physical assault all add up to EXTORTION by the Philadelphia Building Trades Unions.