The Hartford Courant

Union Dissident Testifies To Panel


May 5, 1998

WASHINGTON - Stephen G. Manos told a congressional panel Monday that he has suffered harassment, intimidation and physical assault for speaking out against the leader of Laborers Local 230, the Hartford construction union he has belonged to for 33 years.

The Glastonbury man testified at a hearing on ``Impediments to Union Democracy,'' part of a panel that included three other union dissidents, a professor who helped write the current federal law and the top lawyer for Manos' parent union, the Laborers' International of North America.

Rep. Harris Fawell, R-Ill., said the session would be the first in a series intended to help lawmakers determine what changes should be made in laws enacted to guarantee that union members have a voice in their unions.

Manos, 53, said the Hartford local is the fiefdom of its business manager, Charles LeConche. Now a vice president of the local, Manos is challenging LeConche for the top job in an election to be held in June.

He said LeConche and his loyalists have refused to provide him with information about local spending, limited his ability to speak out and used one of the most powerful tools at their disposal - depriving him of work - to get him to back off.

``My own experience has shown the Laborers' Union to be one of the least democratically run institutions in the U.S.,'' Manos told lawmakers. ``Union resources are being used to suppress union democracy.''

As part of his testimony, Manos submitted a tape and transcript of two run-ins with LeConche, who became the top Laborers leader in Connecticut after the indictment and conviction of his predecessor, Dominick Lopreato.

Manos said a LeConche loyalist physically attacked him at a meeting last July at Capriccio Ristorante on Franklin Avenue in Hartford. And he said he had a tape made on a concealed recorder to prove it.

Fawell, chairman of the subcommittee, said the tape would be entered into the record, though not played at the meeting, in part because of foul language. In addition, LeConche is suing Manos over the secret taping.

On Monday, lawyers for both the Washington-based international union and the Hartford local were ready for Manos' attack.

In his testimony, Michael S. Bearse, the international's general counsel, said that with prodding from the government, the union is making progress toward making historically undemocratic operations more open.

``We do not believe we have a perfect system, but we do believe we are on the right road here,'' Bearse said.

As Bearse spoke, a union spokesman distributed to reporters a packet of papers that included the police report on the alleged assault against Manos, a case in which the police took no action, and details of several on-the-job incidents involving the union dissident. One of those involved his falling asleep at work.

After the hearing, Robert Cheverie, the East Hartford attorney who represents Local 230 and LeConche, dismissed Manos' allegations, attributing them to union politics: Manos, he said, wants LeConche's job.

All content is copyrighted by The Hartford Courant News and may not be republished or distributed without permission

Return to

(c) All original work Copyright 1998. All rights reserved..