MAY 4, 1998

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

I do so with great pride in our union and members because the Laborers' International Union of North America has in place model ethics: disciplinary and democracy programs that are second to none in safeguarding the rights of every member, of our great union.

These program developed and implemented by the Laborers' General Executive Board more than three years ago take the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) as a floor. Our reforms start there, and, then expand our members' democratic rights further - and their ability to ensure that these rights are fully protected by entrusting their oversight and enforcement to independent officials of unquestioned integrity, and with significant experience in law enforcement and/or labor union matters.

Our union also successfully conducted the first rank-and-file election for General President in December, @ 1996, under the supervision of an Independent Election Officer. In our next election, we will implement direct membership vote for all International Union officers, also under the supervision of an Independent Election Officer Former FBI and Justice. Department officials, and members of Congress have praised the Laborers.' reform programs as innovative and. groundbreaking, calling them a model for future reform efforts.

Of course, these programs are not perfect. But as we learn, we continue to make progress. Most importantly, we must not lose sight of the great strides we have made, and the dramatic changes achieved in the operations and culture of our union.

Indeed, our success thus far - and the fact that work remains to be done - is why we and the Justice Department recently extended our unique Oversight Agreement for another year. Under this agreement, the Justice Department retains the unilateral power to take control of our union if they feel we are making insufficient progress in rooting out corruption and safeguarding our members' rights. We view the extension of the Oversight Agreement as a clear vote of confidence in our reform efforts.

The Laborers' Ethics and Disciplinary Code, and internal reform program work because they are enforced by a team of fully-independent officers. These officers do not answer to the General President, General Executive Board or the General Counsel of the Laborers' Union - they answer only to, our members and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Our Inspector General, W. Douglas Gow, is the former Associate Deputy Director- Investigations of the FBI. He is charged with investigating and resolving disciplinary matters arising under the LIUNA Constitutions or Ethical Practices Code, and supervising the union's compliance program designed to prevent and detect wrongdoing. He has assembled a first-class team of high-ranking former FBI agents and law enforcement officers.

Our General Executive Board Attorney, Robert Luskin, is the former Special Counsel for the Justice Department's Organized Crime and, Racketeering Section. He serves, in effect, the union's chief disciplinary official.

We also have an Independent Hearings Officer and an Independent Appeals Officer, Peter F. Vaira and W. Neil Eggleston, respectively, who is also former top Justice Department prosecutors.

I reiterate- these independent officers ensure that any Laborer with a grievance against any official, member or entity of this union will have his or her charges fully investigated and- addressed entirely on the facts the law and the LIUNA Constitutions, free from all internal or external political considerations.

We have taken extra steps to make it easier for union members or dissidents to raise complaints, questions, or concerns with the establishment of a toll-free 800 number that goes directly into the Inspector General's office. All calls are treated in the strictest confidence. All allegations of wrongdoing are fully investigated, and prosecuted, if warranted. .

As a key element of our reforms, the Laborers' Union has also adopted a new set of Job Referral Rules and Hiring Hall practices to protect all members' rights and eliminate wrongdoing or political retribution. These reforms are important because in the construction industry, employers often hire employees through union referrals. Therefore, safeguards have been put in place to prevent abuse of these procedures and to ensure, that hiring is based on merit, matching the best able workers with the specific needs of contractors. At the same time, these rules must have the flexibility to meeting varying circumstances in different communities, as well as the divergent laws of the United States and Canada.

Laborers' officials and members have received education and instruction to implement these reforms, which guarantee that each member of LIUNA has an equal right to fair treatment. The rules impose strict record-keeping requirements that will help to ensure compliance. And this process is being overseen and enforced by the GEB Attorney.

I will emphasize once again - the new programs are not perfect. But substantial improvements have been made, and the process is being aggressively supervised and monitored by our, independent officers.

In short, the Ethics and Disciplinary Procedure, the Election process, the new Job Referral and Hiring Hall Rules, and all of our reforms go beyond the Bill of Rights specified in Title I of the LMRDA. Every Laborer is assured of equal rights, full democratic participation in union matters, freedom of speech and assembly, safeguards against improper disciplinary action, the right to all pertinent information, and full enforcement of their rights.

With regard to the allegations made by' Mr. Manos, they are properly under the purview of the Inspector General and GEB Attorney- independent officers over whom I have no authority. But I should emphasize that Mr. Manos has had many outlets, internal and external, with which to air his grievances. All of his charges have been investigated both by the Laborers' Independent Officers and by outside law enforcement

authorities, including the Hartford police. None of these authorities has brought any charges.

I should also emphasize that this swirl of charges and countercharges takes place in the context of an approaching, hotly-contested, and most assuredly democratic election for the position of Business Manager of Local 230. This election is being run by the independent American Arbitration Association. Mr. Manos has been full able to voice his views and positions to his fellow union members, and they will render democratic judgment in the upcoming election.

As Mr. Manos' example illustrates democracy is never perfect and rarely pretty. But what is happening in Local 230 is democracy. And my hope is that all the participants in this election heed the admonition of GEB Attorney Robert Luskin, who recently wrote:

It is our view that some measure of restraint and political maturity- by both sides - would go a long way toward relieving tensions within the local and avoid the needless expenditure of union resources occasioned by the constant resort to our offices.

Finally, Mr.Chairman, let me address Title III of LMRDA regarding trusteeships.

Once again, the LIUNA Ethics and Disciplinary Procedure takes the LMRDA as a floor and goes beyond that to ensure that trusteeships are imposed fairly and appropriately, under circumstances in which they are warranted and with zero political influence. The fact that the GEB Attorney has full responsibility for the imposition of trusteeships assures the independence and impartiality of this process.

We have had great success in using trusteeships to rid our most problem district councils and local unions of all vestiges of corruption and organized crime influence.

For example, the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York recently concluded its first officers' election since the imposition of a trusteeship in 1994.

Under the trusteeship, 10 local unions were consolidated into two newly charted locals and two existing locals, representing building workers and asbestos and lead abatement workers. Organizing efforts have doubled the membership of the District Council to 12, 000.

The District Council also has implemented innovative safeguards to prevent further corruption, such as its first certified steward's program and FBI clearance to become a steward.

Moreover, the District Council has recovered $12 million of $15 million in assets lost by the membership because of malfeasance by former officers and trustees of the District Council Fringe Benefit Trust Funds.

LIUNA worked closely with the Justice Department on the Mason Tenders'situation, and developed a good working relationship with career prosecutors who had worked for years to address corruption in the District Council. Indeed, the Mason Tenders' Court-appointed investigations Officer - Michael Chertoff, who also served as Special Counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee Republicans - has expressed his confidence in our aggressive efforts to prevent organized crime from ever regaining influence within the District Council.

Among the most impressive achievements of the GEB Attorney and Inspector General is the imposition of a trusteeship over local 210 in Buffalo, which has historically been controlled by organized crime. The government had investigated Local 210 for 30 years and in that time was able to win a grand total of two felony and one misdemeanor convictions. But under the supervision, all officers of Local 210 were forced to resign and disciplinary charges were filed against 28 of them.

Most recently, we have imposed a trusteeship over the Chicago District Council. A highly-regarded labor attorney, Robert E. Bloch was chosen trustee with the approval of the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, and he is working aggressively to clean up all operations.

In summation, Mr. Chairman, we are extremely proud of everything we have accomplished to date to ensure all Laborers the corruption-free, fully-democratic union they deserve. We also recognize that there is much work still to be done and our commitment to democracy and reform remains as deep and unyielding as ever.

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