Hoping to forestall a rumored federal racketeering lawsuit, Intl. Longshoremen’s Assn. (ILA) president John Bowers announced the appt. of Michael Armstrong as the ILA’s “Independent Ethical Practices Counsel” earlier this month. The ILA also released a 20 page code of ethics that prohibits ILA officials from soliciting bribes and knowingly associating with organized crime figures.
Federal prosecutors are reportedly preparing to file a nationwide lawsuit against the ILA accusing the union as a whole of racketeering and in need of fed. oversight, similar to what the Teamsters union has been under since 1989. In the past 12 months, a fed. ct. has taken over Bayonne, NJ, Local 1588, which ignored a 1992 agreement to rid the union of mob influence; and an ILA vice president in Brooklyn admitted his role in maintaining the Gambino crime family’s interests in the union.
Bowers claimed that Armstrong, who investigated corruption in the NYC police dept. in the early 1990s, would have free rein to investigate ILA officials for violations of the code, which says, “corruption, discrimination or anti-democratic practices shall not be tolerated,” and also states that union officials should have no personal financial interests that conflict with union duties. Acc. to Bowers, copies of the code have been provided to all ILA members with a toll-free phone number to call for confidential complaints. [Journal of Commerce, 1/6/04]