August 6, 1982



My appointment calendar shows that I had lunch with Leo Nazden at the Down Under Restaurant on July 11, 1980. My recollection is that Leo, an old friend dating back to the Harriman campaign days of 1952, telephone me a day or so earlier and asked whether I would have lunch with him on the 11th. Leo made clear right off the bat that the purpose of the luncheon was to acquaint me (he referred quite warmly to my work involving the Mine Workers) with the weak and worsening state of the Laborers' Union flowing from the corruption of the officers and the influence of organized crime and to enlist my help in remedying the situation.

He asked if I would meet with him and Bob Powell, First Vice President of the Union, to see what could be done to clean up the Union either by Powell becoming its Prenident (Leo spoke enthusiastically of Powell's honesty, ability, and political support within the Union) or by one or more lawsuits.

I explained to Leo that I represented the Laborers' Union as one of a dozen or so plaintiffs in the Right-to-Work case and bringing an action against the Laborers might be a conflict of interest, but that I wasn't able to say off-the-;cuff whether it was or not. At any rate, I agreed to meet with Powell and Nazden and hear their story more fully. I invited the Yablonski firm to join in the meeting.


My appointment calendar shows that at 11 o'clock on July 29, 1980 there was a 2-hour meeting in my office. In attendance were Powell, Nazden, Al Love (another Laborers' official), Chip Yablonski, Dan Edelman Chuck Both and myself. Powell and Nazden outlined the corruption in the Union as they saw it and as they learned of it from the union comptroller. They made clear they intended to clean up the Laborers' Union by Powell taking over leadership, by one or more lawsuits, or by both, and they asked me to represent them in the clean-up effort.

My appointment calendar shows that I had lunch with Chip, Dan and Chuck right after the meeting and it is my recollection that they all felt they were not in a position to participate in the clean-up effort in the Laborers. I believe none of the four of us felt that I was technically disqualified from such participation, but I was troubled by the possible appearance of conflict.

I had taken a considerable beating from the labor movement for representing reformers like Miners for Democracy and the Sadlowski group in the Steelworkers and I just didn't feel at that moment like taking a lot more abuse on that score. Besides, we were exoruciatingly busy in the office and I decided this was one representation I was not going to undertake.

Powell, Nazden and Love had, however, made a convincing case to me that there was wholesale corruption in the Union and Powell had also made clear that at least he (and poasibly others) were running a great risk of violence at the hands of organized crime if they went ahead with efforts to clean up the Union.

Because of this, I felt badly, and even cowardly, in deciding not to represent them. So I decided the least I could do was find a lawyer for them. This was not easy because there are very few lawyers willing to take union corruption or union democracy cases.

The labor movement does not take kindly to labor lawyers suing unions: management lawyers can only hurt the cause of the union reformers; and general practitioners usually have neither the inclination nor the know-how to carry on the kind of fight we put up for Miners for Democracy and the Sadlowski group.

The best representation possible other than the Yablonski firm would have been Public Citizen (Alan Morrison and Arthur Fox). But they were, I believe, already helping with some problems in the Laborers' Union, and, anyway, they indicated they were not in a position to take over the clean-up effort.

The matter rocked along that way for some time with me looking for a lawyer for Powell, Nazden and Love. My appointment calendar shows that I had lunch with Powell and Nazden at the Mayflower on October 23, 1980 and my recollection is that they pressed me to come up with someone. Meanwhile, I had been talking to Bill Dobrovir about litigation for the Fund for Constitutional Government (on whose Board of Directors I serve) and I had mentioned to him that there was to be a conference of the Association for Union Democracy out in Detroit the week-end of October 25 and 26, 1980.

Bill liked the idea of attending that meeting and did so along with Bob Walters, who was either then or later became Chairman of the Board of the Fund for Constitutional Government. Bill seemed very interested in the subject of union corruption and union democracy at the AUD meeting and everything started to fall into place.

I got Powell, Nazden, and Love together with Bill and he became the attorney in the Laborers' litigation. My principal contribution other than getting Bill together with Powell and Nazden was in helping persuade the Fund for Constitutional Government to make a grant so that Bill could afford to do the work on the 501 case.

To digress for a moment, I have always thought there are two main ways to clean up a union. One is by fighting for new, clean and democratic leadership. That is what we were after in both the Miners for Democracy and Sadlowski efforts. The other, of couree, is to bring a 501 suit to make the corporate officers disgorge their wrongful gain. at the union'. expense.

These are parallel lines of attack and in the Miners' effort we tried both of them. At any rate, it always seemed to me that new leadership was the key to the clean-up and I continued to advise Powell, Nazden and Love on the politica1 aspects of the effort in the hope that Powell would become President and Laborers' members would at long last have a strong and honest union to represent them.

In August of 1981 I went to a party at Bill Lucy's house and Bob Powell was there. We had a long talk about the upcoming Laborers' convention and he said he £eared for his life if he ran against the incumbent President, Foeco, who was under federal indictment along with a number of organized crime flqures.

He also related various overtures the Fosco crowd was making to him -- basically, if he let Fosco be re-elected without any fuss (maybe even nominate Fosco), they would insure his electlon as President down the road. I told him that I didn't think promises from Fosco or his crowd were worth much.

Each time I said, "why don't you just go ahead and run and see if you can make it, his answer was that "I don't know whether I would come out alive." When we met after the Convention. Powell told me that Fosco had promised him in front of the Laborers' Board that he, Fosco, would step down in nine months to one year and support him, Powell, for the Presidency. Powell, of course, did not run against Fosco at the convention: someone else did and got roughed up.

This past June or July, Fosco was acquitted. Earlier, the indictment of Secretary-Treasurer Coia was dismiseed under the statute of limitations (the Government is appealing). I had lunch with Bill Dobrovir on July 16, 1982 and he told me that an emergency meeting of the Laborers' Board had been called for Thureday, July 22nd, and that Nazden thought the meeting had been called for Fosco to resign, in which case there might be a atruggle at the meeting between Coia and Powell for the top Job. He said Nazden thought Powell had four votes, Coia four, and one Board member's vote was controlled by Connerton, the General Counsel, who Powell and Nazden always considered a part, if not the leader of their opposition (Nazden's word for Connerton was regularly "consigliore").

Bill Dobrovir said he had gone to see Stephen Sacks of Arnold and Porter, Connerton's lawyer in the 501 case, to suggest that the case against Connerton might be settled by the election of Powell. This appeared to me a foolish action because it had no chance of success, but it would certainly have been in the interest of cleaning up the Union if Powell could have been elected as promised by Fosco back at Conventlon time in 1981.

In other words, Bill's proposal for settling the 501 case, itself intended to help clean up the Union, in return for new leadership that would clean up the Union, was proper and sensible except that it never had a chance. Anyway, although I don't agree with Bill that he needs a lawyer for the disqualification motion filed against him by Sacks, he feels he does and I have tried unsuccessfully to get Sidney Sachs, Ike Groner or Alan Morrison to handle this.

A few days later, on Tueaday, July 20, Nazden called and said he wanted to see me. He told me pretty much the same things that Dobrovir had about the forthcoming Board meeting. But he added that there was great danger of violence and referred to the guy involved in the Laborers'-Donovan matter who was found in a car trunk. He also related that a few months earlier there had been a dinner for Coia in an Italian restaurant in Miami where those present made clear that nobody was going to be allowed to stand in the way of Coia becoming President whenever Fosco stepped down.

Nazden felt, as I did, too, that despite these developments, this was the time for Powell to demand that Fosco make good his promise to resign in favor of Powell. Nazden then called Powell and arranged for a breakfast the next morning at the Dupont Plaza.

At the breakfast on Wednesday, July 21, Powell was doubtful that Fosco would resign at the Board meetinq the next day. He thought that the more likely reason for the convening of the emergency meeting was to consider the payment of the legal\ bills of Foaco and Coia.

I tried to persuade Powell to demand that Fosco and the Board carry out the promise that had been made to him. I don't believe Powell gave me a direct answer, but he did advert more than once to the possibility of violence against him if he did what I suggested.

Powell said that there was to be a party that night at the Bay Adam. to celebrate Fosco's acquittal (somewhat strange since four or five Laborers' officials had been convicted at the same trial) and they might be bringing in some outsiders -- I believe the word was "hoods" -- to scare overybody for the next day's meeting. He said he and his supporters were going to the party and Board meeting "dressed", which, he expladned, meant armed..

We agreed to meet again Friday morning (July 23rd) at the Dupont Plaza. At the Friday breakfast, Powell first related what happened at the Wedneaday night party. First, Connerton told Powell that the promise of his election as President was going to be kept but not tomorrow. Then Foran, a Fosco lawyer, told Coia in front of a Powell supporter on the Board not to mess with Powell (which, of course, went right back to Powell). Finally, Fosco himself told Powell pretty much the same thing Connerton had said. It was clear to me at once that Powell was being set up for something and what it was became clear at the meeting the next day.

Referring to the Thursday Board meeting, Powell reported at the Friday breakfast that the Board unanimously (apparently everything is handled with unanimity) approved all of Fosco's legal bills -- $550,000 worth -- and Coia's pre-indictment bills -- aomething like $90,000 worth. He then reported that Berger of Williams and Connally (which had been hired to "investigate" the 501 suit) gave a report that there was nothing to the case and then one of the union lawyers in the 501 case, either Dudley or his partner, proposed a Board resolution directing the union lawyers to file a motion to dismiss or otherwise terminate the case because the Board had reviewed all the facts and there was nothing to the case.

Powell was in the Chair as Fosco and Coia are defendants in the suit and that makes Powell next in line. One of the Board members demanded a roll call on the resolution and six members voted "aye," none voted "no." Fosco and Cola didn't vote and neither did Powell. Somebody pointed out Powell's failure to vote and he then voted "aye." a Powell, as Chairman of the meeting, also certified the resolution as having been adopted unanimoualy.

After Powell concluded his recitation of what had happened at the Board meeting, I exploded. I pointed out that Powell by his vote and his certlficatlon had repudiated everything be had told the July 1980 meeting in my office and everything that he had said since then. I pointed out to him that he had been set up the night before the Board meeting, that he had thought they were going to go through with their promise on the Presidency and now they had him totally in thelr control -- if he ever again said that there was corruption in the Union, all they had to do was point to his vote for, and certification of, the resolution saying the exact opposite. I told him he would never be president after that (unless on corrupt terms dictated by his opponents), because there was nothing to fear from him any longer.

All Powell said -- and he said it several times -- "did you want me to get myself killed?"

Nazden was visibly upset and asked me what I recommended.

I dictated to Nazden a memo from Powell to all members of the Board which, to my recollection, went as follows:

"1.I voted for the resolution yesterday under duress.

2.I believe the 501 suit should go forward and the chips should fall where the Judge leaves them.

I left the table and have not heard from either Powell or Nazden since.

I have left the original of this document with my son, Carl, who, as a former U.S. Attorney, will know what to do in case something should happen to me. The only copy is in the hands of my partner, Elllott C. Lichtman.

Joseph L. Rauh, Jr.

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