Statement by AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney

on the Subcommittee on Crime

of the House Judiciary Committee's Hearing

on the Laborers' Union

July 24, 1996

These bogus proceedings against the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) are nothing more than retaliation for the new voice that America's unions are creating for working families. This isn't the first time that the Gingrich Republican House leadership has tried to silence those who speak out against them -- but their bully tactics will not fool the public or deter us from exposing their attacks on working families.

These hearings are an ugly and gross abuse of government authority. It is only the latest chapter in the organized smear campaign against union leaders by the House Republican leadership - - an attempt to divert public attention away from the Republicans' core agenda: cutting Medicare and education, giving tax breaks to the wealthy, and reducing environmental and workplace safety protection.

Laborers President Arthur Coia has been an acknowledged leader in fighting for change, for a stronger labor movement, for real health and safety on the job, for more aggressive organizing, and for cleaning up corruption wherever he could find it. Coia and the Laborers union should be applauded for their bold actions to crack down on the last vestiges of mob control in their union -- not witch-hunted because of past problems and their current opposition to Gingrich's attacks on working families.

These hearings are not legitimate legislative activity. They are a naked political payback -- conducted at taxpayer expense -- to try to punish all of America's unions for telling it like it is on Medicare, tax cuts for the rich and the minimum wage.

In contrast to our use of private money to protest their cuts in Medicare, worker safety and college loans, Subcommittee Chairman Bill McCollum's use of tax dollars to underwrite the House leadership's private vendetta campaign against America's unions is a clear abuse of congressional power.

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