The Hartford Advocate

 

The Scoop: Assault and Flattery

 

Hosannas for labor commissioner Shaun Cashman

 

Edward Ericson, Jr. and Chris Harris got this week's Scoop

01/25/01

 

Hosannas and accolades accompanied Gov. John G. Rowland's appointment of Shaun Cashman as Connecticut commissioner of labor last week. As presidentof the Connecticut Building Trades Council and business manager for the Laborers' Local 611 in New Britain, Cashman is a man of labor--rather than the typical Republican appointment of a lawyer who represents management. Cashman drew praise from fellow labor honcho (and Democratic Party chairman) John Olsen for his advocacy of Project Labor Agreements--a system by which a non-union contractor agrees to hire unionized workers for a particular project. PLAs may be used in the construction of Adriaen's Landing (which Cashman also pushed). So it may come as a surprise to some that Cashman assaulted a fellow business manager in 1997--in a dispute over PLAs. According to an affidavit sworn out by Ronald Nobili, he and nine fellow business managers met at the New England Laborers' Training Facility in Pomfret to discuss organizing in Connecticut. The subject of PLAs was broached, with Nobili opining that they were part of the reason for the union's lagging membership. At that point, Nobili contends, Cashman "blurted, 'If you want to know about PLAs why don't you ask me instead of listening to that asshole.' Mr. Cashman did not have the floor. I responded to Mr. Cashman that 'it was obvious why he would be disturbed by what negative remarks I might make about PLAs considering the amount of money that goes to his son's firm for advertising each time a PLA is signed.' "Mr. Cashman requested that I come over to his side of the table, I refused. He then proceeded to rise and methodically and deliberately walk toward me winding up and clenching his fist to strike me, which he did.  I did not take the punch sitting down. I proceeded to defend myself at which time several in the room attempted to separate us." Cashman denied the event took place as Nobili described, and no criminal charges were filed. But the union's inspector general later reported that Cashman had been "reprimanded," adding, "the threatened and nearly effected physical violence is regrettable and certainly not condoned...." At a testimonial dinner held in Cashman's honor recently at the Aquaturf, his son, advertising man Tony, told Courant columnist Pat Seremet that the senior Cashman has "been able to forge alliances on both sides of the aisle. . .He's always been able to bring people together."

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