Bureau Of National Affairs

Wednesday August 28, 1996





Report Urges Congress To Probe Grants To LIUNA



Congress should prohibit labor unions and any organization with a record of criminal wrongdoing from receiving federal grants, according to a report prepared for The Heritage Foundation.


Written by Kenneth R. Weinstein, director of the conservative foundation's government reform project, the report singles out the Laborers' International Union of North America as “a case study of serious problems in the federal grants process.”


According to Weinstein, LIUNA received a $3.5 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development three months after union officials admitted to the Justice Department that the union was influenced by organized crime. “It's bad enough that mandatory dues from union members are used to pay for corruption and political activities. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay as well,” Weinstein wrote.


“Clearly, federal grant dollars should not be given to any organization with admitted ties to organized crime for the purpose of recruiting more members. Whatever other else might be done to prevent the abuse of federal grants for political purposes, this is a first step upon which liberals and conservatives alike should be able to agree,” he wrote.


Weinstein said Congress should order a General Accounting Office investigation into LIUNA 's handling of federal grants, renew efforts to restrict lobbying by federal grantees, 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.”


Under a 1994 consent decree between the Justice Department and LIUNA , union officials agreed to institute democratic reforms and to weed out corruption within the union's ranks. An independent investigator has been appointed to investigate charges of racketeering or other forms of misconduct. The union has agreed to submit to a government takeover if Justice officials conclude that officials have not lived up to the terms of the decree.


The report is entitled Organized Crime, Organized Labor, and Corruption of The Federal Grants Process. Copies are available from The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002-4999. Telephone: (202) 546-4400.


(c) 2002 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. Washington, D.C. 20037

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