Hartford Advocate

Norma Rae to Scoop: #$%@ OFF"

May 20, 1999

When organized labor says it's getting a raw deal, Scoop wants to know the details. So when a group of rugged-looking man picketed outside the offices of one the Advocate's Constitution Plaza neighbors last Monday, Scoop darted across the street to find out why. But the boys weren't talking. "I've got no comment for the Advocate", said one, whom a colleague identified as Frank but who refused to give his name. "Not for that paper." Asked why he didn't want to be our friend, "Frank" replied, "Ask Steve Manos.";

It turns out the men belong to Connecticut Laborers Local 230, the local branch of the Laborers International Union of North America, or LIUNA. LIUNA has been the target of a federal probe, Congressional hearings & lawsuits alleging its national leadership tampers with union elections & gets too= close to the mob.

Manos is a plaintiff in a racketeering lawsuit against the Connecticut Laborers, of which he was once vice president & a candidate for business manager. He has been quoted in a handful of Advocate stories. He was not quoted in the Advocate's most recent story about the union, however, which told of Gov. John Rowland's appearance at a laborers function. Charles LeConche, the business manager of the local, was called for comment for that story, but he did not return the call. After the article appeared, he wrote a letter in which he faulted Scoop for unfair reporting & stated that the Connecticut laborers goes out of its way to help members through tough times.

After being rebuffed by the picketers last Monday, Scoop tried to talk to LeConche to find out what the protest was about, but he did not call back.

Undaunted, Scoop learned that the Constitution Plaza protest was one of three the union staged that day; the other two sites were Trinity College & Storrs.

The picketing was aimed at Connecticut Acoustics, & the union's beef was that the company is letting members of the carpenters' union unload trucks, which is supposed to be laborers' work.

Meanwhile, an independent hearing officer arbitrating union disputes has disqualified Connecticut Laborers board member Wayne Silva from running in the rerun election scheduled for May.

The rerun was called to address charges by Manos that LeConche stole the last election, charges LeConche denies. Silva's name was tossed out because he's a contractor, & it's against union rules for him to run. Although Silva is a close friend of LeConche, even people fighting to oust LeConche say Silva has 30 years' experience with the union & overall is not a bad guy. Thus, the laborers' internal strife claims yet another leader; Manos himself was already disqualified from running because he's retired.


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