Bureau Of National Affairs
Thursday August 29, 1996
LIUNA Responds To Heritage Report Questioning Federal Grants To Union
Laborers' International Union of North America Aug. 28 dismissed a report by The Heritage Foundation that questions the union's receipt of federal grants, calling the report a “conservative, right wing, election-year political stunt to deny hard-working Americans their rights for the best possible job training and education.”
The foundation report, written by Kenneth R. Weinstein, director of the conservative foundation's government reform project, calls on Congress to prohibit labor unions and any other organization with a record of criminal wrongdoing from receiving federal grants (167 DLR A-5, 8/28/96). It also urges Congress to renew its efforts to restrict lobbying by federal grantees.
The report cites LIUNA as an example of an organization that is receiving millions in federal grant funds despite the Justice Department's conclusion that the union has been influenced by organized crime. Under a 1994 consent decree, LIUNA has agreed to implement democratic reforms and has named an independent investigator to weed out corruption within its ranks.
In a statement, LIUNA characterized the foundation report as “another diversionary tactic of the right-wing Republican forces to divert attention from the real issues voters face this November.” It said the union has received grant funds from the Bush and Reagan administrations that were “equal to, and in some cases greater than, the grants received under the current administration.”
“The Laborers' International Union of North America has set the standard for providing the most extensive, creative, and innovative training programs in the construction industry,” the union said in a statement. “The union trains over 50,000 workers every year at 69 state-of-the-art training facilities, including three mobile units, throughout North America. LIUNA provides the latest training and education techniques in basic construction skills and in environment, asbestos, and nuclear remediation.”
As for the reforms ordered by the Justice Department, the union pointed out that they have been endorsed by former FBI and Justice Department officials, members of Congress, and others as “ground breaking and a model for future reform efforts.”
Weinstein's report also recommends that Congress order a General Accounting Office investigation into LIUNA 's handling of federal grants, and require grantmakers at HUD, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Labor to “testify about their knowledge of allegations of criminal infiltration of LIUNA.”
(c) 2002 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. Washington, D.C. 20037