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.
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.”
For the last two years the International Longshoremen’s Association has been operating under a Justice Department civil racketeering indictment.But whether the change in leadership at New York City headquarters this month suggests the feds will drop its suit remains to be seen.As expected, John Bowers resigned on July 26 as president of the ILA at the union’s quadrennial convention in Hollywood, Fla., having held the job since 1987.Bowers, 84, had been indicating for some time that he would not seek re-election.His close ally, Richard Hughes, Jr., 74, the ILA executive vice president, takes over at the top spot, having run uncontested.Hughes’s replacement is Harold Daggett, assistant general organizer and president of the nearly 2,000-member Local 1804-1 across the river in New Jersey, long under control of the Genovese crime family.Daggett had been acquitted in November 2005 after an emotionally draining waterfront criminal trial that saw, among other things, the discovery of the dead body of missing witness Lawrence Ricci.Hughes had gotten his job in 2005 as a replacement for Albert Cernadas, who retired after pleading guilty in the case.
In the end, the jury wasn’t convinced.But that hardly means the prosecution wasn’t convincing.On Tuesday, November 8, a federal jury in Brooklyn, N.Y. acquitted all three defendants of conspiracy and fraud charges related to allegations they steered Longshoremen union benefit funds toward a mobbed-up pharmaceutical company.The fortunate ones are:Harold Daggett, the union’s assistant general organizer; Arthur Coffey, ILA vice president and Miami chieftain; and Lawrence Ricci, a reported Genovese crime family captain.While the verdict was a clear victory for the union, nagging questions remain – like the whereabouts of Ricci.
At first reading, it seems like a travesty of justice.But the acquittals of all three defendants in the recent criminal trial of two highly-paid ranking Longshoremen officials and an underworld associate should be placed in context.The jury in that Brooklyn, N.Y.
The bosses who’ve been running the International Longshoremen’s Association have led a charmed life – or at least a good imitation of one.For several decades the union has had a devil’s pact with the Genovese and Gambino crime families:We’ll install your guys in key positions; you make sure nobody else walks on our turf.At the New York, New Jersey and Port of Miami waterfronts, in particular, it’s been hard to tell where organized labor and organized crime actually differ.But it’s an arrangement whose end now may be near.
A reputed Genovese mob captain from New Jersey has joined three top Longshoremen union bosses as a co-defendant in a federal racketeering indictment that claims the ILA is under Mafia influence, according to the Journal of Commerce.The extortion and wire-fraud charges against Lawrence Ricci are the latest development in a case scheduled to go to trial May 31 in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
Albert Cernadas, has become the latest and highest-ranking official of the Intl. Longshoremen's Assn. to be indicted on federal racketeering charges. The ILA's exec. v.p. was indicted in Brooklyn earlier this month on charges of extortion, conspiracy, and mail and wire fraud conspiracy. The indictment expanded previous charges against Harold Daggett, the union's assistant general and president of the ILA's New York/New Jersey maintenance local, and Arthur Coffey, an ILA vice president who is the union's top official in Miami.
Cernadas is also president of the ILA Local 1235 in Newark, N.J. He and Daggett have been mentioned as potential candidates to succeed ILA President John Bowers.