By Sherie Winston
Long-time union official Terence
M. O'Sullivan will take the helm of the laborers' union Jan. 1,
following the retirement of General President Arthur A. Coia.
Coia says he will retire
Dec. 31, ending weeks of industry speculation about his departure.
The union's general executive board elected O'Sullivan, a top
Coia aide, to serve the remainder of the presidential term that
runs through 2001.
O'Sullivan, 44, began
his career in 1974 while a college student and member of Local
456, working as a construction laborer on the Washington, D.C.,
subway system. He later became a member of Local 1353 in Charleston,
W.Va., and in 1989 worked as the administrator of the West Virginia
laborers' training fund. In 1993, he moved to Washington, D.C.,
and became the assistant director of the union's construction
department. Most recently, he was mid-Atlantic regional manager
and assistant to the general president. O'Sullivan, whose father
once served as the union's secretary-treasurer, was elected an
international vice president in February.
"I look forward to
building on the record of achievement this union has attained
under Coia's administration," says O'Sullivan. Although he
still is crafting his own leadership goals, O'Sullivan says the
union will continue to organize and expand market share, particularly
Coia, whose father also
served as a secretary-treasurer, was appointed president in March
1993. He will become general president emeritus, but will have
no direct involvement with the union. Under his leadership, the
union has greatly expanded membership, improved training programs
and signed foreign unions as affiliates.
Much of Coia's achievements
have been overshadowed by a government probe into allegations
that the union and top officials had ties to organized crime.
In February 1995, the union began an internal reform program under
an agreement with the Justice Dept. Disciplinary charges were
filed against Coia, but an independent hearing officer cleared
him of having any ties to organized crime. Coia says he believes
history will judge the internal reform program "as my greatest
Union officials say Coia's retirement is not connected to any Justice Dept. deal. The reform agreement with the department expires Jan. 31 and preliminary talks already are under way.