A former union member recounts union bosses’ reign of terror in Northern New York against nonunion contactors.  Phil Fairbanks has the story in the Buffalo News.

Even more important, perhaps, they were co-defendants in a criminal prosecution that rocked the local construction industry with allegations of violence and vandalism against non-union contractors.

There was a time when Mark N. Kirsch and Gerald H. Franz Jr. seemed forever bound together.

Franz, who is seeking leniency in return for his testimony, told a federal court jury about Kirsch’s use of the term “turn or burn” when talking about the union’s campaigns against local contractors.

“He said they would either become union or go out of business,” Franz said.

A former business agent for the local, Franz testified about 10 different instances in which he participated in or directed others to vandalize equipment owned by non-union contractors.

Franz also told the jury about a conversation in which Kirsch advised him to build an “army” of union members who could take over the vandalism Franz once did on his own.

“It was just one of the necessary evil things we did,” he told Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce.

During more than four hours of testimony, Franz portrayed Kirsch as a union leader who wanted the vandalism to continue and at the same time distance himself from it.

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