I make the following statement under penalty of perjury:

1. I have been a member of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) for over twenty years and a member of Local 942 of LIUNA in Fairbanks, Alaska for about the past eighteen years. For more than fifteen years, I have actively attempted to work within the union to make it more democratic and responsive to the needs of the rank and file. My efforts, and those of my fellow union members who participated with me in those efforts, were met with vicious suppression, including economic reprisals, violence and threats of violence. My home has been vandalized, my friends have been beaten, shot at, and assaulted with knives and guns. Over the years, I have observed a clear pattern within LIUNA of chilling the rights of LIUNA members and preventing democratic participation in the union's affairs. Meaningful democracy is dead within LIUNA. Throughout the time that I have worked for reform nothing has fundamentally changed. Any change which has been made is cosmetic or has been posturing required to satisfy legal requirements.

Based upon my conversations with people who have attempted to oppose LIUNA leadership throughout the country, I believe that efforts to bring about democratic change within the union are met with intimidation and violent suppression today just as they have been in the past.

2. During the late 1970's and early 1980's, I was a member of Laborers' for a Democratic Union ("LDU"), a national reform movement attempting to bring democracy to LIUNA. This reform movement emerged because of the wide-spread corruption that was the subject of the President's Commission on Organized Crime in Organized Labor and numerous other congressional hearings and criminal prosecutions throughout the United States. LDU was inspired by the progress which had been made in the Teamsters by reform groups known as PROD (Professional Drivers Council) and Teamsters for a Democratic Union ("TDU").

3. LDU formed a slate of candidates for international office at the 1981 International Convention held in September, 1981 in Miami, Florida. I attended the convention in order to be nominated for General President of LIUNA; about six other LDU members attended the convention with me in order to be nominated for other international offices and to introduce certain resolutions aimed at democratic reform of the international union.

4. As a potential nominee for the office of General President of LIUNA, I aspired to be the first person ever to oppose LIUNA's General President, Angelo Fosco, in an election. LIUNA has never had a contested election for international president before or since. Angelo Fosco was LIUNA's General President for over twenty years, having inherited the job from his father Peter Fosco (who had been President for some twenty years before him): the Fosco family dynasty controlled LIUNA for over forty years. Arthur E. Coia, the Secretary-Treasurer, held office for at least twenty years as well until about four years ago; his son, Arthur A. Coia, similarly inherited the position. Arthur A. Coia has now inherited the General President position with the death of Angelo Fosco in early 1993.

5. LIUNA did not even conduct International Conventions for some 30 years until federal law mandated that such conventions be held: now they comply with the minimum federal standards, that is, international conventions are held once every five years. With the exception of 1981, the incumbents are renominated amongst a staged display of support, are seconded, and win by acclimation; no roll-call vote, let alone a secret ballot election, is utilized. This procedure insures that no opposition candidate emerges. And there are no procedures in the International Constitution for bringing internal union charges against the international officers.

6. The International Convention was held at the Diplomat, a large Miami hotel; I estimate that the primary meetings (including the nominations and elections meetings) were attended by some two thousand LIUNA members, chiefly delegates from LIUNA's local union affiliates throughout the United States and Canada.

7. I and other LDU members were harassed by LIUNA's security guards from the opening of the convention. On the first day, I and other LDU members began to distribute leaflets in the hotel lobby directly across and twenty feet from Angelo Fosco, who was at an information table greeting the delegates as they entered. I set up directly across from Fosco and began to distribute leaflets to the delegates. Observing my leafleting, Fosco got up and moved the whole operation to another room, whereupon a LIUNA security guard told me and my colleagues to stop leafleting. One fellow Laborer from Canada, Charles Shane,, continued to distribute leaflets later during the Convention: he was ultimately arrested on charges of obstruction and trespass for having done so and taken to jail on the last day of the convention. It is my understanding that he was ultimately acquitted of these charges.

8. In another incident, a LIUNA security guard with a pistol on his side took me aside and showed me another, small hidden pistol he said he was carrying as a "throw-down gun", so that he could (as he explained to me) claim anyone he had trouble with had been armed after he'd shot him. I gave him a leaflet and I assured him I was not armed.

9. On the day of the nominations meeting, LIUNA's security guards barred all LDU members from attending the convention, including Dennis Ryan and Fred Noon, who were both official convention delegates duly elected by their local unions. We told our story to a Miami police officer we met by chance in a coffee shop across the street from the hotel. The policeman escorted us back to the hotel and demanded that LIUNA's security guards admit us to the convention. At that point, the guards backed down.

10. Dennis Ryan was to nominate me for General President at the convention; another of us was to nominate Ryan in the event my nomination was rejected. Because I was not an official delegate to the convention, I was not allowed into the nominations meeting but waited outside the door of the hall in which the meeting was held. I saw Dennis Ryan as he emerged from the nominations meeting immediately after he had attempted to nominate me as a candidate for General President: his glasses were bent, his shirt torn, he had defecated in his pants. He immediately told me that when he had attempted to walk up the aisle to the microphone to nominate me, he had been punched, kicked, knocked down and struck by LIUNA's Sergeants of Arms and some convention delegates. The beating had occurred in full view of LIUNA's officers and representatives who were present on the dies. Ryan told me that he had reached the microphone and had nominated me and, as planned, he had been nominated, in turn, by another LDU member and convention delegate, Fred Noon. Ryan later explained to me that he had to pass the New York and Chicago delegations on his way to the microphone; these delegates had participated in the beating together with LIUNA's Sergeants at Arms.

11. Immediately, thereafter, Ryan, Angelo Fosco and I were each separately interviewed by a panel of LIUNA's Judges of Election. During my interview, I told the panel, which included at least one of LIUNA's attorneys, Jules Bernstein, that people were getting hurt and beaten up. I pleaded with them to stop the beatings. As I left my interview, a LIUNA security guard tried to punch me in the groin, but I blocked the punch.

12. I was told that I was disqualified for office because I was not an elected delegate; however, Ryan and Fosco were both determined to be eligible. No secret ballot election was held: LIUNA conducted an open roll-call vote in the presence of LIUNA's officers, including President Angelo Fosco. This vote took five hours, as each delegate had to identify himself and then announce his vote. The results were predictable: few dared openly oppose Fosco and Ryan received five votes while Fosco received around 2000.

13. Ryan also told me that the next day a LIUNA security guard knocked his briefcase out of his hand; but, as the guards were escorting him out of the convention, he was taken aside by LIUNA's lawyers, Robert Connerton and Jules Bernstein. Ryan also told me at the time (that is, just before Ryan left the convention that LIUNA's lawyers, Robert Connerton and Jules Bernstein, tried to buy his silence and cooperation by offering him an all-expense paid trip to a Solidarity Day rally in Washington, D.C.. if he agreed to remain at the convention and pretend everything was alright. Ryan did not agree. Shortly thereafter, Ryan and Noon left the convention. Both told me at the time that they were leaving because they feared for their lives.

14. I also left the convention early; I did so because no more could be done and I believed my life and limb would be at risk.

15. Nothing has changed since 1981. After the events at the 1981 convention and, in particular, the beating of Ryan in full view of some two thousand assembled convention delegates from LIUNA locals across the US and Canada, no LIUNA member has run for international office in opposition to the international leadership since. In addition to Ryan's beating, several LIUNA officials or members were killed and received serious death threats during the early 1980's. These death threats and murders had a serious impact in deflating members' interest in participatory democracy within LIUNA for many years. The dissident movement has been effectively countered by LIUNA.

16. Just before the 1991 convention, in about September of 1991, Fred Noon, a LIUNA member from Iowa who was involved in the LDU efforts in 1981, told me that he was reluctant to go to the convention again because he had found a woman's purse containing a dead rat that had been tossed on his lawn. He told me that he believed that mob elements that control LIUNA were responsible and were sending him a clear message that he would be as dead as the rat if he made trouble for them. Ultimately, Noon did go to the Convention and like former LIUNA First Vice-President Robert Powell before him (who had received the same dead-rat message) he made no trouble for them.

17. Over the past thirteen years, I have talked with LIUNA members from across the country who have attempted to oppose LIUNA leadership. The message which emerges from these conversations is clear. If a local union opposes the union, it is threatened with trusteeship or other reprisals. If a member within a local opposes leadership, he faces a likely loss of employment. Because most LIUNA members rely on the union hiring hall for employment, local LIUNA leaders use the hiring hall to reward their friends and punish their opponents. Intimidation takes many forms -- it is overt in the form of beatings but it is also silent when you can keep an opponent out of work. Why send out the goons to beat your opponents up when you can merely starve them to death?

18. From my experience and observation, it is unnecessary for to use threats and violence against all of its members in order to suppress dissent within the international. Making an example of just one member has a broad and lasting effect. Any member who was at, or heard about the 1981 convention, knows the futility of opposing the LIUNA leadership. Democracy within LIUNA is a joke. I have had union members tell me that they were afraid to be seen talking to me because they feared reprisals; I have also had union members say to me that they were afraid to stand next to me because they might be shot; though they say it in jest, they are expressing a genuine fear for their well-being. Until the reformation that took place within the Teamsters Union takes place within LIUNA, democracy within LIUNA is effectively non-existent. Members who oppose LIUNA leadership risk both their physical and economic security.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Chris White

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