By John O'Brien,
Nov. 1, 1997
After finding alleged mob influence at the
district level in the Laborers Union in Chicago, union investigators
are prepared to spotlight more suspected corruption, this time
at five Chicago union locals. "The district council case is certainly
not the last stop of our investigation in Chicago," one lead
reformer said Friday, referring to reform efforts that since July
have focused on the umbrella organization for the Chicago area's
Beginning Monday, officials of Local 225,
the first of five locals targeted, are scheduled to undergo questioning
under oath about a series of alleged social and business links
to known members of organized crime. Among those facing questioning are John Galioto,
the local union's top business manager, and its suspended president,
Joseph Abate, who is under indictment on a gambling charge. Neither
could be reached for comment. A refusal to submit to a sworn deposition
is grounds for dismissal from the union, which represents construction
Investigators reportedly have uncovered evidence
of disturbing inroads by mob figures into the ranks and various
welfare funds of the Laborers Union. These investigators, mostly
former FBI agents, are working for the international union as
part of an agreement with federal prosecutors to help cleanse
the 700,000-member union of unsavory types and restore democracy
for the rank-and-file membership.
The other Chicago-area union locals under
scrutiny are Locals 1, 2, 5 and 1006. Altogether, they represent
9,000 of the approximately 19,000 union members in the
Chicago area; many of the 9,000 work for the City of Chicago.
The start of depositions at the local level
follows several months of testimony given behind closed-door hearings
into the activities of the Chicago district council.
An independent hearing officer's decision
is expected within 60 days on whether to grant a request by the
union's general executive board attorney, Robert Luskin, to oust
its leadership and place the council in trusteeship. Also awaited is Luskin's response to last
week's statement by the union's general president, Arthur A. Coia,
that said Coia himself is under investigation and will be
charged with wrongdoing. Coia's vow to fight any charges, which
he said have sullied his reputation, came as a surprise, because
union investigators haven't charged him with wrongdoing. Sources
said that could change next week.
Luskin's assistant, Dwight Bostwick, who
conducted the Chicago district council hearings, declined to comment
on Coia's statement except to say that wrongdoing, no matter where
in the union, would be pursued. "There are matters under consideration,"
he said in response to a question of whether Coia would be charged.
"Beyond that I am not at liberty to say."
(c) 1997, Chicago Tribune