346 Rayburn Office Building

Washington, DC 20515-6100

For Release

May 27, 1998

Contact: Bill McCarthy or Jay Diskey at (202) 225-4527


Witnesses report threatening phone calls and amended lawsuit alleging defamation

WASHINGTON, DC_ The chairman of a House subcommittee examining union abuses against rank and file members today released a letter to Arthur Coia, president of the Laborer International union of North America, warning him against acts of retaliation against individuals testifying before the subcommittee.

"We've had two union members subjected to harassment as a result of coming to Congress and telling their stories, " said Rep. Harris W. Fawell(R-IL), whose Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations began May 4 a series of hearings looking into the democratic rights of the rank and file within their unions. "Republicans and Democrats on the subcommittee are working together to find ways to protect the rights of union members. We cannot, and will not, tolerate any retaliation against any witness and we will take every step necessary and possible to protect them."

Stephen Manos, vice-president of Hartford(CT) Laborers' Local 230 of Coia's LIUNA, told the subcommittee last week that his testimony has "further exacerbated" acts of harassment, intimidation and retaliation against him. These included a May 12 complaint in a Connecticut Federal District Court filed by Local 230's business manager accusing Manos of defaming him before the subcommittee. Manos had testified May 4 that the business manager physically assaulted him and threw him out of a Local 230 executive board meeting for asking questions regarding the union expenditures.

Fawell today also sent a copy of his letter to Coia to Attorney General Janet Reno. Fawell sent a similar warning letter on May 8 to Charles W. Jones, president of the Boilermakers National Transient Lodge, after Ernest "Skip" Patterson, the local-elected president of the Boilermakers National Transient Lodge, reported to the subcommittee that his Congressional testimony prompted numerous threatening phone calls.

The subcommittee's "union democracy' hearing are reviewing the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which protects, among other rights of union members to vote at meetings, to express any arguments of opinions, and to voice views upon union candidates and union business.

Attachment: Chairman Fawell's letter



346 Rayburn Office Building

Washington, DC 20515-6100

May 27, 1998

Mr. Arthur Coia
General President
Laborers International Union of North America
905 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-1765

Dear Mr. Coia:

As you may be aware, the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations (Subcommittee) of the Committee on Education and the Workforce held the first in a series of hearings on union democracy on May 4, 1998. We hope these hearings will aid in determining whether legislative remedies to the Labor-Management Reporting & Disclosure Act of 1959 are needed or whether the existing laws simply need improved enforcement. I look forward to working with you and many other in an effort to address these issues in the coming months.

One of the witnesses who testified oat the Subcommittee's May 4, 1998 hearing is the popularly elected vice president of Local Union 230, Mr. Steve Manos. It is entirely possible that the Subcommittee will call other witnesses from the Laborers International Union of north America (LIUNA) in the course of these hearings. Since Mr. Manos reports that he has already received threats as a result of his congressional testimony and since a previous lawsuit filed against Mr. Manos by Business Manager Charles LeConche has been amended to include a defamation claim involving his congressional testimony, I find it necessary to contact you in these regard. I am certain that you agree that it is essential that citizens are free from retaliation when exercising their right of free speech. in the context of these hearings on union democracy, it is even more critical that we work together to ensure witnesses are free from retaliation.

I and the other members of the Subcommittee, wish to state in the clearest possible terms that the Subcommittee will not tolerate any retaliation against Mr. Manos or any other witness who testifies before Congress and that the Subcommittee will take every step necessary and possible to protect these witnesses should there be any hint of retaliation. I enlist you, other officials and the rank-and-file members of the union to join in ensuring union democracy and an environment free from retaliation . I trust that you understand the Subcommittee's position on this matter and that no such action will be taken against any present or future witness.

I appreciate you attention to this matter and look forward to working with you.


Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations


The Honorable Donald M. Payne, Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations

Mr. Charles LeConche, Business Manager
LIUNA Local 230

The Honorable Janet Reno
Attorney General

Robert D. Luskin, Esquire
LIUNA GEB Attorney

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