Former union head sentenced for ordering assault on workers

A former Indiana union leader was sentenced Wednesday to 42 months in prison for his role in an assault on a group of nonunion ironworkers at a church.

Jeffery Veach, of Portage, pleaded guilty in January in Northern Indiana District Court in Hammond to extortion conspiracy for attacking nonunion workers who refused to join a local union group.

Under the plea agreement, Veach, 57, admitted that on Jan. 7, 2016, he threatened and attacked nonunion workers in a failed attempt to obtain contracts for Iron Workers Local 395 from general contractor Lagestee-Mulder and from D5 Iron Works, two Illinois-based companies.

The nonunion iron workers were constructing a school affiliated with Dyer Baptist Church.

Veach — who was president of Local 395 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers— was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Theresa Springmann. He resigned his union position and salary Jan. 24 as required by his guilty to organizing the violent attack on workers who opposed joining the local.

Thomas Williamson, 68, of Schererville, also pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Springmann on Dec. 15.

Prosecutors alleged that Veach and Williamson visited the construction site in Dyer in order to persuade the D5 workers to sign up with the union or stop work on the site. When they were rebuffed, Veach brought rank-and-file members of Local 395 to the construction site later that day.

At Veach’s direction, the union members attacked the D5 workers, who were beaten with fists and pieces of hardwood. One worker sustained a broken jaw that required several surgeries and hospitalization, according to prosecutors.

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