By MARY JANE EGAN
Discrimination, nepotism and blatant favoritism
were rampant in the operation of Sarnia Local 1089 International
Laborers Union under business manager Rocco D'Andrea, the Ontario
Labor Relations Board has found.
In a 35-page report released Tuesday, the
board upheld the complaints of 32-year-old laborer Joe Portiss
who alleged throughout a 12-day hearing which ended in April that
Mr. D'Andrea's hiring habits unjustly deprivedhim of some 47 union
jobs between 1980 and 1982.
In what is being heralded by Mr. Portiss'
lawyer as a landmark decision, the board has ordered the union
and its officers to implement 10 relief measures designed to eliminate
the "obvious abuse of power" the board has identified
within the union's management.
In considering these orders, the board felt
the "widespread disregard of the most fundamental rights
of members of Local 1089 so serious, it considered suspending
or removing Mr. D'Andrea from office. But the board concluded
that since Mr. Portiss' Toronto lawyer Brian Iler did not seek
such strong remedial action in his case, it would not make such
an order. However, the board concluded it would consider such
measures if its relief orders are not implemented.
The board has ordered the union and its officers
to cease all arbitrary and discriminatory hiring practices. It
calls for a written list of hiring hall rules to be posted in
the hall and a copy to be provided to the union's 1,200 members.
At the next general union meeting in September,
the board has ordered a committee of no less than five members
be formed to prepare, within 90 days, a list of specialized job
classifications and rules governing them. These are also to be
provided all members.
In what is considered a most unusual order
in a case involving a union, the board has ordered that within
30 days, an outside auditor be retained at the union's expense
to oversee union books, administration of hiring hall rules and
procedures for a period of two years. The person or firm hired
must be from outside Sarnia and is to have no contractual relation
with the union.
The board has also called for copies of the
out-of-work list to be posted in the hiring hall as well as a
list of employer job requests. The lists are to include names
of dates of referrals so "all members know their place and
the place of others" on the out-of-work list.
Responding to Mr. Portiss' evidence that
an arm injury prevented him from accepting some union jobs, thus
causing his name to return to the bottom of the out-of-work list,
the board has ordered establishment within 90 days of a list of
injured or partially disabled members "with a view to devising
a system for the referral of such members without penalty or discrimination."
When such rules are adopted, they are to be posted in the union
The board has ordered monetary compensation
to Mr. Portiss for all wages and benefits lost as a result of
the union's violation of Section 69 of the Labor Relations Act
discriminatory hiring practices. The figure is to be decided
upon between both parties in the dispute and Mr. Iler's initial
estimate is between $15,000 and $25,000.
The union is also ordered to post in English
and Italian copies of a board notice which states the union will
adhere to the board's orders. The notice is to be posted for 90
consecutive working days.
In response to evidence at the hearing that
union members found it difficult to secure acopies of the union
constitution, the board has ordered copies be made available,
at no cost, to all members and that a reasonable number be kept
at the hall.
In making its findings on the case, the board
frequently refers to the fact Mr. D'Andrea and his Toronto lawyer
Alan Minsky made a motion for a non-suit and called no evidence
at the hearing - -concluding they had "no case to respond
The board said this absence of an explanation
compels it to draw adverse inferences against the union. And
it states that there is overwhelming evidence that the job classification
"scheme" of the union was "left deliberately vague
by Mr. D'Andrea and the union executive to facilitate the practice
of favoritism and discriminatory job referrals."
"The evidence confirms that hte hiring
hall has been used by the officers of Local 1089 and especially
Mr. D'Andrea as an instrument of patronage. Patronage and nepotism
have no place in the hiring hall contemplated under the Labor
Relations Act," it states.
The board concluded Mr. D'Andrea, and union
president Orfeo Iacobelli regarded Mr. Portiss and fellow laborer
Donato Marinaro as "political enemies." Both had run
unsuccessfully for election to the union's executive.
Mr. Marinaro, who has also filed a complaint
of discriminatory hiring practices against the union, will have
his case heard July 26 by the board.
The board blasted the union officials for
nepotism, stating "the evidence establishes that the family
ties of Mr. D'Andrea and Mr. Iacobelli extend throughout the union's
administration and its general membership. Specifically, the
board cites the case of Cecilio Iacobelli, saying he jumped past
250 laborers to secure a job in 1981.
The board also notes the hiring hall books
are kept primarily by Anna Iacobelli - Mr. Iacobelli's daughter.
While much of the evidence at the hearing
surrounded job classifications and Mr. D'Andrea's contention that
laborers' names were skipped over if they had a particular skill,
the board concludes at least one job classifications was "inserted
deliberately to conceal the blatant favoritism shown Cecilio Iacobelli.
And it adds it therefore would "see no reason to strain
to rely on any of the notations of classifications in the hiring
hall books to explain referrals out of turn."