UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
LABORERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION OF
NORTH AMERICA, AFL-CIO, et. al,
I make the following statement under penalty
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
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
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
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.