has run the Laborers' Union for so many decades that most veteran
labor watchers think that's how it's supposed to be. And Bruno
Caruso, long-time head of Chicago's Laborers' Local 1001, is a
union boss whose links to both the Chicago and national Mafia
go back to the days when Sam Giancana was ordering hits on union
dissidents, including the attempted murder of the late Frank (Frankie
the X) Esposito, an old-time Mafia figure who once held exactly
the same union post that Caruso now operates from.
BUT A FIRST SMALL step to end Mafia control
of the Caruso wing of the Laborers' was taken this week as the
Laborers' International Union of North America issued a trusteeship
complaint on the union's Chicago District Council. The charges
the Laborers' International has lodged against Caruso's 19,000-member
fiefdom include ties to organized crime, financial malpractice
and lack of democracy in union affairs.
Although the trusteeship complaint is a clear,
no-nonsense done deal, a formal hearing will be held on July 16th
before the actual trusteeship-which is a takeover of the Chicago
locals by the International Union-is imposed.
Interestingly, this takeover of the mob-controlled
Chicago locals by the equally mobbed-up Laborers International,
is an obvious case of the pot calling the kettle black. Where
officials of Locals 1001 and 1006, as well as the District Council
itself have ties to the Giancanas and Accardos of local organized
crime lore, Laborers' International boss Arthur Coia is himself
tied to the Lucchese, Genovese, Todaro and Patriarca branches
of the Mafia in New York, Buffalo and Boston.
Laborers' Union officials have always had close, ongoing political
ties to whatever administration held power. In fact, just four
days after the official June 13th notice of intent to impose the
trusteeship on Bruno Caruso's empire was put into effect, Caruso
and several other ranking Laborers' heavies were helping stage
a Cook County Democratic Organization cocktail bash to honor still
another mobbed-up union guy, Ed Hanley of the Hotel Employees
and Restaurant Employees International Union.
The Chicago Laborers' are one of the largest
and most politically connected unions that Mayor Richard Daley
has to deal with. Laborers' Union members fill thousands of jobs
in Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department, they are on virtually
every City construction project, and no highway in the City, Cook
County or the State of Illinois is ever resurfaced without Laborers'
Union member participation.
But even as local Laborers' Union boss Bruno
Caruso has a close working relationship with Mayor Daley, Arthur
Coia, the Laborers' International chief and head of the entire
750,000-member organization, maintains an equally close relationship
with President Bill Clinton. In fact, Coia recently attracted
lots of heat to his union over gifts to the Clinton campaign of
hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the really big issue that
had Coia backtracking and explaining was his gift to Clinton of
a set of golf clubs engraved with the Presidential Seal.
AT THE SAME
time Coia was playing footsie with Clinton, he, Coia, was operating
under the cloud of Justice Department investigation of his own
ties to organized crime. In fact, for over two years now, the
Laborers' International Union of North America has been operating
under a Federal Consent Decree, which is a form of a trusteeship
that the federal government has imposed on the International,
or the LIUNA. In an odd bit of irony, the LIUNA itself is having
its every move monitored and its every shot called by Justice
Department feds because Coia and his predecessors in the Laborers'
top jobs have always had ties to the Mafia.
Coia holds his current position by virtue
of the fact that, after the LIUNA was put under the government
monitoring program, he won an election for union president against
the very same Bruno Caruso of Chicago that he is now in the process
of kicking out of the union.
ALTHOUGH COIA runs the LIUNA,
the official trusteeship complaint is signed by Robert D. Luskin,
who is the union's General Executive Board Attorney and the individual
most directly charged with rooting our Laborers' officials with
Before Coia assumed the top spot in this
long-time mob tainted union the union was run by Angelo Fosco
and was, before that, the creation of his father, Peter Fosco.
Mob watchers have long ago tied Peter Fosco to Al Capone and Angelo
was always one of the right-hand union guys under the control
of the late Chicago Mafia Don Tony Accardo. In fact, Accardo was
the father-in-law of Ernest Kumerow, one of the prominent Laborers'
officials who is listed in the current trusteeship complaint.
THE OFFICIAL COMPLAINT
charges that, "For at least the past 25 years, the leadership
of the Chicago District Council has had strong, discernable ties
to the leadership of organized crime in Chicago."
The trusteeship complaint, covering 18 pages
in length, charges that corrupt union officials have long had
a pattern of placing mob figures in no-show jobs under contract
to the union as well as in positions of authority in the several
union structures themselves. The complaint cites abuse of political
power by corrupt union officials while at the same time, preventing
Laborers' Union members from exercising their own rights to participate
in internal union elections.
With the Laborers' Chicago District Council
firmly under the control of the Mafia, not a single contested
election was held for any union post in more than 25 years, the
complaint points out. Also, mob-tied Chicago District Council
officials routinely collected "dual salary" payments
from various union treasuries.
the government-imposed effort to clean up the union was begun
in 1995, many of the mob figures named in the current complaint
have made threats of violence or have offered bribes in an ongoing
effort to stymie the reform.
In an earlier stage of this same ongoing
cleanup, long-time Chicago Laborers' official John Serpico was
kicked out of the union and off his several paid union posts.
Also, Serpico, who held a politically connected position in Calumet
Harbor, was stripped of that post.
TO READ THE
list of names of Laborers' officials who are known to have ties
to the mob is something akin to reading a report drafted by the
Chicago Crime Commission, instead of document prepared by a union
in the process of purging itself of the men who have made its
own history. For instance, the following quote on the structure
of the mob reads exactly as if it were something a law enforcement
agency would draft:
CHICAGO OUTFIT CREWS.
LCN families such as the Chicago Outfit generally conduct criminal
activities through entities known as "crews." Each crew
is headed and supervised by a person generally referred to as
a "crew boss" or "capo." Each crew consists
of individuals inducted into membership in the LCN who are thereafter
referred to as "soldiers" or "made members."
Referring specifically to Chicago Laborers'
Union officials, the complaint continues "Over the past 25
years, the Chicago District Council has had strong ties to a number
of crews, including the North Side Crew, the 26th Street Crew
and the Chicago Heights Crew."
A Chicago-area Laborers' Union reformer,
James McGough said of the trusteeship, "It's good for the
union, but there's so much corruption, it's going to take years."
'"The mob controls the union in Chicago, New York, Boston and Rhode Island. We have to go one at a time, and Chicago is a good place to start," McGough said.