The Associated Press

Laborers Union Clean-Up Extended

By Tracy Boutelle
Associated Press Writer

Thursday, January 7, 1999

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Laborers union on Thursday was given another year to rid itself of corruption, preventing court-appointed officers from taking over and cleaning house.

To avoid racketeering charges, the Laborers agreed in February 1995 to weed out alleged mob lieutenants from its ranks and hold direct elections of its officers. The Justice Department extended that agreement until Jan. 31, 2000, saying the union has made strides in its internal reform plan.

"This extension recognizes that additional time is needed to complete efforts to eliminate corruption from the union," said U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar.

The Laborers International Union of North America is one of the nation's largest labor unions, with 700,000 members.

The union held its first contested nationwide election in 1996 under independent supervision. It placed leadership councils in Chicago, New York and Buffalo under trusteeship because of perceived ties to organized crime. Other changes include adopting an ethics and disciplinary code.

The Justice Department said proof that the group's disciplinary process is working can be seen in misconduct charges filed against the current president, Arthur Coia, accused of associating with mafia members.

Coia has denied that he is under mob influence.

The Laborers voluntary deal was seen as precedent-setting in 1995. The government has forced supervision on other unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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