Electrical workers' union posted signs outside the Trolley Car Diner protesting Weinstein's organization Philly Office Retail's decision to hire non-union workers.

Electrical workers’ union posted signs outside the Trolley Car Diner protesting Weinstein’s organization Philly Office Retail’s decision to hire non-union workers.

By Sue Ann Rybak

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) placed signs outside the Trolley Car Diner and handed out fliers charging Ken Weinstein, the president of Philly Office Retail, of “helping to destroy wages and benefits” on Thursday, Feb. 6.

The labor union objects to Philly Office Retail hiring McCoubrey/Overholser, a Mt. Airy based general contractor, to convert the former St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, located at the corner of Wayne Avenue and Harvey Street into a private school.

Weinstein said his organization did get quotes from the IBEW but their bids were 30 – 40 percent higher than non-union contractors.

Weinstein said the development project will transform “a long vacant and deteriorated property in Germantown into a vibrant and active Waldorf School.”

The Gothic stone church, chapel, rectory and parish house sit on roughly two acres of land and were designed and built by Frank Furness and George Hewitt. The buildings were listed by the Philadelphia Preservation Alliance as one of the most endangered historic properties in the Philadelphia region.

Weinstein said his organization is investing almost $6 million into the Germantown development, which is one of the largest in Germantown in many years. He said the project will create about 100 temporary and permanent jobs.

Weinstein added that the development uses no government funding, other than historic tax credits that were awarded to help preserve the property.

I do not appreciate this personal attack and I will not stay quiet while they spread lies and misinformation about our projects designed to revitalize our neighborhood,” Weinstein said. “I will put my record of revitalizing our region’s urban communities, anytime, against the efforts of IBEW to shut down projects that positively impact our community.”

Weinstein said several patrons have expressed their support of the Waldorf School development project and have criticized the union workers for handing out threatening fliers with Weinstein’s picture and cell phone number listed.

In a letter emailed to several friends and customers, Weinstein asked community members to visit the diner and tell the protesters that they disapprove of their efforts to shut down the development project.

I don’t care whether or not you stay to eat at the diner, just that you let the protesters know that they do not have the support of our community and that they should support my efforts make northwest Philadelphia a better place to live, work, learn and enjoy,” wrote Weinstein.

“With all the homes still without power in Chestnut Hill and Montgomery County as a result of the winter storm, getting power back on for area families would be a much better use of the protesters’ time,” added Weinstein. 






  • Tom C

    Well now, if the McDonald’s up the street was to oppose to oppose any future unionization of fast food workers so they can get a higher wage, I’m glad Ken will be the first one there to tell the protesting workers that they are wrong and should go home.

    And that last comment, “getting power back on for area families would be a much better use of the protesters’ time,” I guess you can say something similar about any protest.

  • http://closeup.brianrudnick.com buhrayin

    I would have appreciated hearing IBEW’s side of the story. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so5CFVlsdfc&feature=youtu.be

  • Gardner

    Why would anyone pay 30-40% more for the same work that they can get for that much less, especially from one of the region’s most reputable and excellent contractors, McCoubrey-Overholser?
    The only problem with any union is their refusal to compete and, if they ever are asked to compete and then lose a job because their bid is 30-40% higher than other fair bids then they go all ratty and moaning about how area wages are being destroyed!!
    Seems that charging 30-40% more than anything is worth and then intimating people into paying their high price and then resorting to criminal vandalism…just wait… is what really destroys area wages, drives developers away, is illegal, offensive and is grossly unAmerican.
    Compete fairly, my friends, and you will win these jobs.

  • Mr_Underhill

    Suddenly I have the urge to eat at the trolley car diner. Why don’t you thugs go protest in front of the White House? That utter disgrace you voted for is doing far more to stagnate your wages and destroy job creation.

  • WildBill0283

    Salaries for the top 10 union bosses of the IBEW:

  • ChrisM

    The audacity to protest a local restaurant right around the corner where heinous acts were committed on a meetinghouse is belligerent and reinforces the fact that unions are stuck in the 20th century.

  • Co-op kid

    Yeah, isn’t Weistein the guy who threatened the Rita’s water ice guy so he could preserve his monopoly (and ability to charge more)? It is ok for a rich guy to protest to preserve his job, but not the construction guys?

  • KWH

    Ken Weinstein “Helps Destroy” Area Wages & Benefits

  • Anonymous

    Given a choice between revitalization of my long-neglected neighborhood by a heavily invested developer like Ken Weinstein on the one hand, and a coercive supra-competitive union contract for a far flung group of workers who don’t care at all about my community on the other, any rational person would support the revitalization. Paying 30-40% more than competitive rates makes desperately needed projects impossible economically. Higher labor costs get passed on as higher rents, which Waldorf, for instance, couldn’t afford to pay. I’m sympathetic to economic struggles of the middle class, but the rest of us American workers have found a way to demonstrate our worth in competitive markets. I don’t see why union workers should not have earn their wages on the basis of how hard and well they work, like the rest of us.

  • yvonne haskins

    Why don’t unions compete in the market place? The union movement was started to protect workers from exploitation, sweatshops, and unsafe working conditions. Is that the purpose of all of the bullying by IBEW? A fair wage is important; however, given the disparity between building in Philadelphia and building in the suburbs (50% less), the construction trade unions are monopolizing the building industry and driving up costs. Unions should be as concerned with putting their members to work as they are with controlling who gets the work. And they should be made to compete to get the work. Nonunion workers are not going to take a job for slave labor. Sorry…I don’t get this “bully” approach to the union movement.

  • maitlon

    Looked at from the point of view of someone who supports the principles and rights of organized labor, the obstruction (standing about prevailing on customers not to patronize isn’t obstruction? Nonsense.) at business sites unrelated to the dispute and at Weinstein’s residence is extortionate. Plain and simple.
    If the contractor Weinstein hired is paying prevailing wage, comments from the union implying poor workmanship and economic damage should be directed to the Department of Licenses and inspection not imputed and dragged in to besmirch the developer.
    The union’s position that their interpretation of their rights is sacrosanct and draping their rejoinder’s to Weinstein’s complaints in the flag of “First amendment rights” is so much unwarranted crap. They have yet to be specific as to the nature of the “damages” to the public from whom they’re asking for support. It appears they simply want to bully the developer in a dispute where they have no cards in the game. There is no court adjudication that supports their side. What it comes down to is hooliganism as punishment because “you didn’t give us the job”.

  • Germantown Resident


    As a Germantown resident, I support you and what you are trying to do!!! My wife and kids will continue to support you and your efforts. We love your ice cream! I support unions but this is ludicrous. I will join in telling those folks to move on to something meaningful.

  • wildmother

    Stan Smith is Ken Weinstein’s partner at Philly Retail. 9th ward Democratic committee leader John O’Connelly set up the townhouse project next to Sedgwick station and claimed the land belonged to Stan Smith. Indeed his name is on the title papers as managing director & was seen on the non union project of drunk and fighting workers, years of violations and put neighbor in hospital multiple times from haz mat and chemical vapors & multiple crimes. Exposed the workers and the neighborhood to years of fugitive dust and haz mat. Silica and chaos. A 9th month project took longer than the Germantown Ave project or the rewrite of the zoning code. 3 doctors said to get her out asap & Weinstein, city council, city planning, Eman, 9th ward democratic committee joined together and enacted severe and life threatening retaliation. Weinstein colluded in these hate crimes & never once did anything to stop them. Weinstein spends a lot of time making sure he gets a lot of news time and complains of being bullied yet always knew the neighbor next to his partner’s project was being very seriously harmed and he colluded with it and helped perpetuate the crimes and assaults and threats that caused permanent and serious harm. Deaths have resulted from the cronyism and cover up allowed at that site. A politically favored developer can hire scarcely qualified crew and break any law they want and get away with it. What do you think happened at Market street? The city lied when they said they didn’t have good demo regs. They’ve had the best for years. Unions know how to build. They know safety and they would never have allowed the disaster and crimes at the East Mt Airy project.