THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL-BULLETIN
Thursday October 26, 1995
By JOHN E. MULLIGAN
Journal-Bulletin Washington Bureau
Arthur A. Coia, general president of the
Laborers International Union of North America, ended his wavering
over the leadership of the labor movement yesterday, casting the
votes of his 750,000-member union for AFL-CIO presidential candidate
John J. Sweeney, the eventual winner.
Coia said Sweeney's leadership slate is better
able than that of the incumbent, Thomas R. Donahue, "to address
the change" that the union movement needs.
Coia, a Providence native, was among the
first national union leaders to declare his support for Sweeney,
whose leadership of a breakaway group prompted longtime AFL-CIO
President Lane Kirkland's retirement last summer.
In recent weeks there had been speculation
that Coia would be involved in a shift of votes to Donahue, Kirkland's
longtime lieutenant and successor.
On Monday, Coia confirmed that he was indeed
contemplating a switch - just hours after having signed a "loyalty"
letter reaffirming allegiance to Sweeney. Coia said he was considering
an offer from the Donahue camp to take a top slot in a Donahue
administration, in return for his support.
Coia indicated Tuesday, however, that he
had decided to stick with Sweeney and he did so during yesterday's
Sweeney representatives have not commented
on Coia's public flirtation with the other side. But Coia said
yesterday that he has spoken to Sweeney, who is "thankful
and grateful that I maintained my position."
Coia said Sweeney gave him no inducements
to remain in his camp.
Coia, who had voiced concern that a switch
would erode his credibility in union circles, was asked whether
he thought his credibility had suffered from his willingness to
entertain the possibility of switching.
"I don't think that," he said.
"Sometimes a perception is ultimately not as important as
the actuality. It's action rather than words that counts."
KEYWORDS: picture biography Coia Sweeney labor ~ W IBOGZB 0068
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Contents copyright 1982 to 1995 by The Providence Journal Co.