Whatever else might be said of the International Longshoremen's Association, this is one union that knows how to drive a hard bargain. On December 27, a federal mediator announced the ILA and the U.S. Maritime Alliance had reached a tentative contract agreement, thus heading off a potentially crippling strike at 14 Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. The key obstacle to a settlement - whether or not to scrap cargo container royalties amounting to over $15,000 per worker a year - has been removed. Port owners had argued the practice is needless and costly; the union had insisted it is fair compensation for jobs lost to automation.
Whatever happened to the strike by the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) that was supposed to start October 1? The answer: It's on hold. On September 20 the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) announced that the ILA and a shipping industry consortium, the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), had agreed to continue negotiations until December 29. The 90-day contract extension averts a potentially crippling walkout at Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. The extension, says FMCS Director George Cohen, allows each party to focus on "outstanding core issues in a deliberate manner apart from the pressure of an immediate deadline." The ultimate issue, however, remains: union-driven work rules and accompanying corruption that raise shipping costs to often exorbitant levels.
When it comes to protecting job turf, few unions are as ferocious as the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA). And the union isn't about to compromise that reputation, with its collective bargaining agreement set to expire September 30. "It looks like we're going to have a strike," said ILA President Harold Daggett (see photo). On August 22, talks in Delray Beach, Fla. between the ILA and a shipping industry trade group, the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), broke down. At this writing, they remain at an impasse, though each side has agreed to meet soon.
Raymond Norville may have advertised himself as a handyman, but his most pronounced skill appears to be placing his hands in union tills. On February 16, Norville, a northern New Jersey contractor, was arrested at his home after being charged two days earlier in Newark, N.J. federal court with one count of embezzling at least $100,000 from the Newark-based International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Local 1233. And that figure may be on the low side. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the alleged offenses. The arrest follows a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards, along with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
On October 3, Frank Rago, former representative of the International Longshoremen's Association and former president of ILA Local 1604 in Stoneham, Mass., was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to a year and a day of incarceration followed by three years of supervised probation for making unlawful payments and falsifying union records after the fact. Rago used his position as an ILA representative to secure a no-show job with a local employer in order to continue making his line handler's salary without performing any work. He directed his union to pay his salary out of member deductions. In addition to receiving a sentence, he also was ordered to pay $216,384 in restitution, $10,000 in asset forfeiture and a $200 assessment. Rago was convicted by a jury in January 2010. The actions follow a joint probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Gregory Taylor apparently used his union as a private bank. But the withdrawals ended a year and a half ago. And the bills are coming due. On September 15, Taylor, formerly secretary-treasurer of International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Local 1233 in Newark, N.J., was arrested at his home and charged with embezzling more than $100,000 in union funds during 2006-10. He already had been removed from office in May 2010 following an internal investigation. Special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor carried out the arrest. Appearing in Newark federal court, Taylor did not enter a plea and was released on $100,000 bond.
There are few things quite like a mass arrest to serve as a reminder of the Mafia's continuing presence in American life. The mob roundup last Thursday morning, the largest in U.S. history, at once underscores the large dent that the Justice Department has been making in organized crime and how deeply entrenched so many organized crime operations have been. Some 800 FBI agents, U.S. marshals, state police and New York City cops fanned out and arrested nearly 120 wise guys and associates named in an 82-page, 16-count indictment for acts of murder, racketeering, money-laundering, loan-sharking, extortion and other offenses going back three decades. The takedown includes crime soldiers from each of New York's "Five Families," plus the DeCavalcante (Northern New Jersey) and Patriarca (New England) families. A number of the arrestees were heavily involved in labor corruption.
On August 3, Henry George Green Sr., former treasurer of Local 440 of the International Longshoremen's Association, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to three years probation and ordered to pay restitution of $11,565.72 for thefts from the Port Arthur union on top of the $24,000.18 in restitution he already has paid. Green had pleaded guilty in February to one count of filing a false statement or omission on a union financial report. The sentencing follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Michael “Mikey Cigars” Coppola spent more than a decade on the lam before being caught this August.The Genovese mobster and suspected hit man, formerly the scourge of the New Jersey docks, now might be concerned primarily with protecting himself.In October 2008, a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, N.Y. indicted Coppola, now serving a 42-month sentence for separate offenses, on racketeering charges related to business deals of International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1235, based in Newark.The local, which represents dock workers in Newark and Elizabeth, N.J., was seized by the international union in August, just three days before Coppola’s capture, and has been under trusteeship since.
The leaders of the International Longshoremen’s Association might not have uncorked any champagne at their Lower Manhattan headquarters, but it’s unlikely they had seen happier times.On November 1, U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser announced his dismissal of the Justice Department’s civil racketeering suit against them.In a 109-page decision, Judge Glasser stated that the government’s complaint failed to “sufficiently specify” its rationale for applying the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to the alleged crimes.He wrote:“This court will not abet the government’s effort to stretch the concept of a racketeering enterprise beyond all recognition in order to bring various otherwise disinterested parties within its scope, even for the worthwhile purpose of combating the influence of organized crime on the waterfront.”