Part III:

Laborers' Rocky Road to Reform

Is the clean-up running out of gas?

A new wrinkle has been added to the agreement between the Department of Justice and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA):

Laborers Union members will get to elect their President and Secretary-Treasurer this year. Manipulation of the old, delegate system led to many of the abuses described in the Justice Department1s draft complaint

(see below).

Members will also get to vote in a referendum to decide whether the entire General Executive Board will be chosen by direct election. Election Officer Stephen Goldberg will oversee the election.

Hard Hat spoke with Goldberg, who asked LIUNA members to report to him any use of the hiring hall to influence the election. He can be reached at (800) 383-VOTE, and in Illinois at (312) 372-VOTE.

Reform Progress Report

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice:

LIUNA claims that the following individuals have been removed or have resigned in connection with its reform program:

  • * John Serpico, International Vice-President, Local 8 and other offices, Chicago.

  • * Sam Caivano, International Vice President and Regional Manager, NY/NJ.

  • David Caivano, Asst. Regional Manager, NY/NJ.

  • Daniel Caivano, International Rep., NY/NJ.

  • Frank Caruso, Local 1006, Chicago.

  • Joe Mazza, International Rep., Chicago.

  • * Chester "Zip" Liberatore, Local 310, Cleveland.

  • * Matthew Trupiano, Local 110, St. Louis vicinity.

  • James Frazier, Local 646, Jerseyville, Ill.

  • Douglas Bennett, Local 1278.

  • John Harlan, Local 82, Streator, Ill.

  • Daniel Lanning, Local 82.

  • Dominick LoPreato, Local 230, Hartford.

  • Henry Desch, Local 137, Camden, NJ.

  • Mike Hall, Local 92, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

  • Rick Ellis Local 92, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

  • Guy Vautour, Local 1278, St. John1s, New Brunswick, Canada.

    * named as defendant in draft complaint

LIUNA claims that the following individuals have been suspended pursuant to its reform program and charges against them are pending:

  • Ronald L. DiOrio, International Offices.

  • Jerry Payne, Local 291, San Rafael, CA.

  • Antonio Garcia, Local 67, Oakland, CA.

The union claims that the following local unions have been ordered to run new elections pursuant to its reform program:

  • Local 50, Princeton, NJ.

  • Local 310, Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Local 67, Oakland, Calif.

  • Local 646, Jerseyville, Ill.

Regions Report

Some problems that have turned up in the reform campaign include:

  • Hiring hall abuses continue in many areas. These range from simply ignoring LIUNA's order to post job referrals and hiring hall rules, to getting LIUNA's permission to side-step the rules. For example, LIUNA General Counsel Michael Bearse wrote to Victor Van Bourg, lawyer for the Northern California District Council of Laborers, saying the NorCal District Council hiring halls "are not required to adopt the new rules."

  • In southern California, police were called to a Local 300 hiring hall when members there became agitated over dispatching methods, which some feel are discriminatory.

  • In New York, Buffalo Local 210 has been placed under a trusteeship by LIUNA. Much of the Justice Department's information about the connections between LIUNA and the Mafia came out of Local 210, where Ron Fino, while a local business agent and international union representative, was a government informant for several years.

Commenting on the new LIUNA Ethics Code and other matters, Gene Johnson, Business Manager of the Central Illinois District Council, wrote a letter to President Clinton saying, among other things, "This Code was a part of the agreement so LIUNA could avoid a civil lawsuit that would permit government takeover of union affairs. This Disciplinary Program took effect January 18, 1995. I was excited by this act and thought our International Union was going to police itself and eliminate the ongoing vice. How wrong I was. It only can succeed if honesty is the basis. It has been our experience it is used in many instances and not in others, depending on the person perpetuating the injustices."

He complains of "Intimidation of members by threatening their jobs if they do not comply with the demands of the Regional Manager and General President. Neither were these members given the opportunity to speak in the presence of others, but each was singled out and questioned alone without legal representation.

They have since commented they have an ongoing fear for their jobs and lives." Johnson implores President Clinton, "We, the prople, need YOU now to help us! We do not need or want you to succumb to the false words, attitudes, pretensions, and enticements of an Arthur Coia."

The Draft Complaint

Some exerpts from the Justice Department's draft complaint, the document that started it all:

  • "LIUNA has been infiltrated at all levels by corrupt individuals and orgaized crime figures who have exploited their control and influence over the union for personal gain and to the detriment of the union." (p.1)

  • "LIUNA union officers and employees at all levels, including the general presidency, have been chosen, subject to the approval of, and have been controlled by, various members and associates of organized crime.

    Four consecutive General Presidents of LIUNA, Joseph V. Moreschi (1926-1968), Peter Fosco (1968-1975), Angelo Fosco (1975-1993) and Arthur Armand Coia (1993-present), have associated with, and been controlled and influenced by, organized crime figures.

    Consequently, the rights of the members of the union to control the affairs of the union have been systematically abused. Those union members who opposed this corrupt state of affairs, either at the local, district council, regional or international levels, have been intimidated into silence by violence, threats of violence, economic coercion, and by the known ties of corrupt local, district, regional, and international officials of the union with organized crime." (pp. 1-2)

  • "Arthur Armand Coia has been associating with members of the New England LCN [La Cosa Nostra] family for a substantial period of time." Arthur Armand Coia is named as a defendant, herein, in both his official and his individual capacities." (p. 33)

  • "At all times material to this complaint, defendant John Serpico was an associate of the Chicago LCN family. In making his decisions and taking his actions with respect to LIUNA, defendant John Serpico has been influenced by the Chicago LCN family." (p. 34)

  • "Defendant Samuel J. Caivano is an associate of the Decavalcante and Genovese LCN families. Samuel J. Caivano is named as a defendant, herein, in both his official and his individual capacities." (p. 35)

  • "LIUNA together with its regional offices, subordinate district councils and local unions, and affiliated employee welfare benefit and employee pension benefit plans, have constituted an "enterprise," as that term is defined in Title 18, United States Code, Section 1961 (4). The enterprise has been, and continues to be, a captive labor organization which has been continuously and systematically controlled, exploited, and dominated in the conduct of its affairs by the LCN and its members and associates." (p. 48)

  • "The defendants have unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally acquired and maintained, directly and indirectly, an interest in and control of the aforementioned enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity through the manner and means set forth in subparagraphs a. through e. below, among others:

    "a. Selection of Officers to Control LIUNA.2 (pp. 49-59) How the LCN picked the General Presidents of LIUNA, as well as many Regional, District Council and local officials.

    "b. Acts of Violence to Control LIUNA." (pp. 59-61) Six murders committed by the LCN are listed, five of LCN gangsters and one of a Philadelphia Local 332 reformer, Ben Medina, who was beaten to death for running for local office.

    "c. Appointments and Retention of Corrupt LIUNA Officials to Control LIUNA:

    The defendants have repeatedly approved the appointment of persons with known criminal histories or organized crime ties to union offices and union

    employment and have allowed corrupt officials to remain in office". (pp. 61-70) Listed are fifteen examples, from 1958 to the present.

    "d. Use of Election and other Internal Procedures to Control LIUNA." (pp. 70-87) Shows how the LCN keeps control of LIUNA: the LIUNA Constitution, which the Department of Justice describes as "designed to meet the minimum requirements of federal labor law in a fashion which perpetuates the status quo, i.e., LCN control;" control of elections; manipulation of the hiring hall; Trusteeships to prevent opposition; and the formation of District Councils to prevent opposition.

    "e. Cronyism and Nepotism in LIUNA." (pp. 87-96) Listed are nineteen examples of pals and relatives of mobsters being employed by LIUNA locals, regions, district councils and the international.

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