Ironworkers International, the parent organization of Ironworkers Local 401 (the organization in question), has their work cut out for them as they look to restore respect and prestige to the union.
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Building a respectable brand image requires perseverance, dedication, and a desire to benefit the consumer. The building process becomes extremely difficult when members of your organization are indicted on federal charges of extortion, sabotage, and threats of violence. Ironworkers International, the parent organization of Ironworkers Local 401 (the organization in question), has their work cut out for them as they look to restore respect and prestige to the union.

Organizations often reflect the character of those in charge of the group, and Ironworkers International was sure to remove all of the current leadership from office (pending financial and operational reviews) according to an internal memo obtained by the Inquirer. They swiftly appointed New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney as administrator of Ironworkers Local 401. He will oversee the union’s day to day operations.

Sweeney brings some experience to the position, as he is the son of a union boss and also serves as the General Vice President for Ironworkers International. With the appointment of Sweeney, Walter W. Wise (the organization’s president) stated, “We are focused completely on regaining the trust of our business partners and the public here in Philadelphia – and on ensuring that professionalism and ethical conduct are the driving force at Local No. 401.”

The blue-collar Democrat, Stephen Sweeney, has built his political reputation around getting things done despite having the odds stacked against him. With the ironworkers union, the odds are most certainly not in Mr. Sweeney’s favor, but that does not seem to affect the Pennsauken native.

“I go in when things like this happen. I fire people. I reorganize. And I try to restore the reputation of the union. This is not going to be easy because of what happened,” he said.

Those are bold words, but given Mr. Sweeney’s track record and personal investment in the ironworkers union, they are words that will likely come to fruition. The first step in the process will be to hire new leadership and begin to transform the identity of Ironworkers Local 401, whic had been so respected in Philadelphia. It will be a long and arduous road, but there is at least one man fighting to return the organization to its former glory.