Bureau of National Affairs

 

Laborers

 

Court Grants Injunction; Blocks Raiding By Local Headed by Banned Teamsters

 

 

Granting a motion by the Mason Tenders District Council, a federal court in New York May 30 enjoined two banned Teamsters' leaders and the unaffiliated local union they currently head from contacting employees represented by the Mason Tenders or soliciting their membership in Local 116 of the Production and Maintenance Employees Union (United States v. Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York, S.D.N.Y., No. 94 Civ. 6487 (RWS), 5/30/02).

 

Writing for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Robert W. Sweet found such contact and solicitation would undermine the operation of a 1994 consent decree designed to protect the membership of the Mason Tenders' council "from contact with labor racketeers." That consent decree, the court said, enjoined Mason Tenders' members from "knowingly associating with 'any person prohibited from participating in union affairs.' " The prohibition applied, the court held, to association with Vincent Sombretto and Edwin Gonzalez, both currently officers in Local 116, who had been banned from participating in the affairs of their former union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

 

Aimed at Preventing Further Corruption

 

The Mason Tenders' council signed the consent decree in 1994 after its parent union, the Laborers' International Union of North America, placed it in trusteeship because of concerns that "criminal elements" controlled the activity of some local unions. The decree's stated purpose was "that the District Council shall be maintained and run democratically, with integrity, solely for the benefit of its members, and without unlawful outside influence."

 

Sombretto and Gonzalez were expelled from the IBT in 1994 and permanently enjoined from participating in its affairs, the court said. They were "banished" from IBT, the court indicated, "because of a wide range of misconduct, including embezzlement, other financial misconduct, negotiation of sham collective bargaining agreements and assisting independent unions, including one that was formerly controlled by labor racketeer Jack McCarthy."

 

Gonzalez became the treasurer of Local 116 in 1999, and Sombretto has been the local's president since 1996. Local 116 is not affiliated with MTDC, LIUNA, or IBT.

 

Waste Material, Recycling & General Industrial Local 108, a Mason Tenders' affiliate, was formed in April 1999 from three LIUNA locals that allegedly had been mismanaged. Local 116, Sombretto, and Gonzalez attempted to organize current or former local 108 shops. Specifically, they "solicited MTDC members at Filiberto Brothers in Brooklyn in December 1999, intervened in proceedings involving BFI of New York, which has MTDC and IBT shops, brought by the IBT seeking to represent all BFI workers in June 1999, filed a representation petition for Basin Haulage Inc., represented by Local 108 in February 2001 [and] ... solicited support for Local 116 during the window periods at Chambers Paper Fibers in Brooklyn and at Hunt's Point Recycling."

 

A federal court can issue injunctions that are necessary to effectuate or prevent frustration of orders it has previously issued, the court explained. Although neither Sombretto, Gonzales, nor Local 116 were parties to the Mason Tenders' consent decree, their organizing, raiding, and solicitation activities would involve association of Mason Tenders' members with "person[s] prohibited from participating in union affairs," the court said.

 

Mason Tenders' Decree Broader Than IBT's

 

Unlike a similar IBT consent decree that expressly prohibited Sombretto, Gonzales, and Local 116 from participating in the affairs of the union from which they had been banned--IBT--the Mason Tenders' consent decree is broader in scope, extending to association with any persons banned from participating in the affairs of any union, the court explained. This comports with the Maston Tenders' consent decree's "larger purpose," the court continued, "of ensuring that MTDC affairs are run 'democratically, with integrity, solely for the benefit of its members, and without unlawful outside influence.' " A person banned from participation in any union, the court added, "may bring to MTDC the sort of nefarious and undemocratic activity," that it is the purpose of the consent decree to prevent.

 

In the current case, the Mason Tenders' council has shown that the activities of Sombretto, Gonzales, and Local 116 threaten irreparable injury to MTDC, by undermining the reforms brought by the consent decree, the court concluded, granting the injunction.

 

Andrew W. Schilling, U.S. Attorney's office, New York, N.Y., represented the government. Lowell Peterson of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, represented the MTDC. Annmarie P. Venuti, Manhasset, N.Y., represented Local 116, Sombretto, and Gonzalez.

 

Copyright © 2002 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.


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