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Empires Fall:The Philadelphia Local 30 roofers Union

Preview of our next story

Labor Unions are defined as entities that are legal representatives of employees of a particular trade or in a company. Their main purpose is that of collective bargaining for good benefits, wages and working conditions for the employees that they represent. They also represent employees in contract disputes as well as other grievances. Unions are designed to protect their members, but sometimes corruption can occour at the top, and its the lower members who pay the price because of the greed and personal ambition for power of a few at the top as we will see in this story.

If you were a employer or employee of a roofing company in the city of Philadelphia in the late 1960s til into the 1990s chances are that you were a member of the Philadelphia Local 30. If you were not, well lets just say that you knew exactly who the Local 30 was and you most likely had the lumps to prove it . The Local 30 exerted an Iron grip over the roofing industry in Philadelphia for over twenty years with the use of terrorism and fear. Using tools such as assault, extortion, threats, vandalism, arson, theft, sabotage, witness intimidation, corrupt cops, judges and OSHA inspectors as their weapons to intimidate and terrorize out of business those who resisted this corrupt organization.

Imagine being an employee or employer of a roofing company, having just won a very large contract on a giant shopping center, when beginning the job of installing the roof when suddenly a convoy of seven large buses pull up to the job and out of those buses step literally a thousand men who physically beat the crap out of you and all of your coworkers, your boss and anyone else who gets into their way. They then proceed to destroy all of your equipment, burn your trucks and rip to shreds your roofing material. Criminal acts like the one just described were just the tip of the Iceberg when it came to the local 30. The criminal indictment against the members of the Local 30 reads like a mob movie. The Local 30 at its peak was one of Philadephias most powerful criminal organisations. Having said that, there is no way to convey an accurate story about this organisation in just one blog post. So this will be the first post in a series on the subject.


The takeover of Philadelphia began in 1968 when the leaders of the local 30 including Joseph Traitz, John McCullough, Jack Kinkade and William Stearn devised a plan to exploit the roofers of Philadelphia by forcing them to sign a collective bargaining agreement. They then summoned about 100 roofing contractors to a rifle club in Philadelphia. Over an open mik the Union leaders demanded that the 100 contractors sign an industry wide collective bargaining agreement or else their shops would be burned, thier trucks would be vandalized, ladders would be pulled down while men were on the roof and they would be beaten with baseball bats. I have  no evidence of who actually signed the agreement that day but I have the proof that the union kept their promise to terrorize all who didnt bow down to their demands. These terrorist acts became official Local 30 policy and were employed early and often to accomplish their goals of advancing The unions interests.

One of the main characters in this criminal conspiracy was named Joseph Traitz, who was a business agent for the union. Traitz was also a boxing trainer and debt collector for La Cosa Nostra crime boss Nicodemo Scarfo. Traitz was also a major supplier of methamphetamine in the Philadelphia area.


  1. Don’t know local 30, but I’m a former member (I moved to another part of the country) of another local, an IBEW local, that has controlled their jurisdiction very, very tightly for 75 years or more, and I’m proud and glad! Local 134 certainly has had their brushes with the law, as have plenty of their members, but the result has been a very secure, safe, quality assured, high craftsmanship, member centered industry and work environment. Unfortunately, some trades and locals have tended to collect people of poor judgement and troubled backgrounds that get themselves in trouble repeatedly, and their members need and deserve good rep’s as badly as anyone. I hope Local 30 works out their problems and truly learns from their mistakes.

    I have no knowledge of the history or details of the policy of no 10-year guarantees, but I could probably spell out the facts for you just sitting here in front of my TV, pecking away at this laptop, and it’s a crying shame that young innocent scabs are so clueless about such things.

    A good wireman can find electrical work performed incorrectly and installations which both press the limits of the laws of physics as well as provide broad margins of safety and durability, as well as point out specific points of failure. The vast majority of roofs however, are constructed by teams (“crews”) of tradesmen, and failures in the membrane are very difficult to isolate, and virtually impossible to determine what member of the crew may have compromised the installation process. It can also be very, very difficult to determine if a material fault lies at the root of a failure, or an improper combination of materials containing no individual defects was used. Materials are purchased by “management” and defects are and must be the liability of their providers. If a tradesman is provided with materials and purportedly accurate information about its composition, characteristics and specific manufacturers warnings and instructions, he should not have any difficulties performing a durable quality installation. If however he is NOT provided ample and accurate information for the specific materials to be installed, an installation error has ocurred before the crew ever hits the roof.

    Experience has shown me that the businessmen (management) that are biggest on advertizing fantastic warranties are poorest on material supply and information,,, as well as those that expect/demand that the tradesmen “crew” (labor) perform all required repairs for no pay, as the fault must have been theirs! Temperature, moisture, and contaminants are EXTREMELY large factors affecting installations, and comprise the bulk of material manufacturers installation instructions and notes, yet “the contractor” (management, again) writes contracts and schedules without regard for weather conditions, and doesn’t make provisions for temporary cover, pre-cleaning, processing heat, etc.. If a crew leader stops, or refuses to commence work on a job due to such factors, he and the rest of the crew are sent home and refused pay for showup or even setup work, and too often not even called back, but replaced with another crew that is ignorant of requirements or simply ignores them.

    Tell me now about establishment of liabilities for proper workmanship and warranties. Tell me as well about why roofers don’t need a good union with good rules, a good labor, wages, and benefits contract, and good rep’s that don’t back down. I’d say they can’t afford to have anything less, and bad contractors, contracts, and rep’s have to be found out and cleared out absolutely and immediately.

  2. Fuck the union there all a bunch of premadona lilttle bitches. They think they can walk up to a job and intimadate people like me off good luck not to mention eveyone who runs when the ba shows up is a union maggot on unemployment. oh and one more thing for all you union boys if you want to be so hard up for the union don’t shop at wallmart dont eat mcdondals and go to wawa

  3. Mr Hurst you have no idea what the working man had to do to get a decent contact.because scrum like you that didn’t pay prevailing wage.or have benefits.perhaps your dad or family member were scabs that got bitch smacked .and you feel to talk shit about.local30 you should thank local 30.you are getting a good dime .l hope you are not the only a hole reading this post.no the facts you don’t tell the truth scrum bags like you don’t. No what your talking about that’s all.I have to say to dirtbag

    • Thankyou for your comment Mr, Laughlin. As far as prevailing wage, I do my own work pal and anyone who is associated with me is compensated fairly when doing business with me. As far as any of my ancestors being BITCH SMACKED, Never happened. My Ancestors have a strong history of standing up to tyrants. Namely Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. If that name doesnt ring a bell he’s the man who founded the KKK. My people used his officers heads as mile markers during the Civil War and he called us OUTLAWS. The man who created the KKK calling my people OUTLAWS?? Talkin bout an oxymoron. Its history so read up. http://www.tnyesterday.com/yesterday_henderson/hurst/hurst.html

      AND http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=1616

      As far as not getting benefits, I know how it is and know how bad roofers are treated by their employers after all I worked for many roofers for years of my life and was taken advantage of by ALL of them. It seems the only way to get ahead in this industry is to work for yourself. At least thats my experience. As far as talking s#$t about the Local 30, It isnt my intention to badmouth them. However I know many many people who were associated with them and were used and abused. I also know some who had thee BALLZ to stand up to them. Many lost but a few prospered despite the persecution and violence inflicted by the thugs who were the Local 30 back in the day. As far as telling the truth, I speak the truth. I also speak the truth when I say that I have never seen such SHITAZZ roofing as Ive saw in the Philadelphia metro region in my 20 plus years in the industry. Im sure The Local 30s RULE forbidding contractors to give a 10 year workmanship guarantee has alot to do with that issue. Why give a ten year guarantee when you can keep job security with a two year guarantee? Besides they had the city locked up anyway by violence and intimidation. So who were the real scumbags? I know things have changed down at The Local 30 for the better over the years and I wish them nothing but the best. Again Thankyou for your comment

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