Buffalo-Area Operating Engineers Ex-President Sentenced for Racketeering

operating-engineers-logoIt took years, but Mark Kirsch finally reaped what he sowed.  On August 31, Kirsch, former president and business manager of International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to three years in prison and ordered to pay $184,000 in restitution to two contractors for his role in running the Buffalo-area union as a criminal enterprise.  For about 10 years, Kirsch and certain union members and business agents vandalized nonunion sites.  And they didn’t hesitate to assault or threaten workers at these sites.  Kirsch had been convicted by a jury in March 2014, a trial that saw four other Local 17 members acquitted.  The case was made possible by a five-year probe by the FBI, the Labor Department and the New York State Police.

Union Corruption Update has described this case more than once.  Federal and state …

Buffalo Jury Convicts Operating Engineers Boss; Acquits Four Others

operating-engineerWhen it comes to union violence, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17, based near Buffalo, N.Y., has to rank as among its most obnoxious practitioners. The evidence of crime proved convincing enough for a federal jury last month to convict former local president and business manager Mark Kirsch on various racketeering-related charges. Yet the same jury in the eight-week trial also acquitted four other defendants. Prosecutors alleged that all five union members were involved in repeated acts of vandalism of nonunion construction sites and terror against nonunion contractors and workers. The case had sprung open in 2008 with the indictment of a dozen persons, several of whom eventually pled guilty. While union leaders and their lawyers are cheering the outcome, it is highly unlikely the local can resume its mobster style of enforcement.

Union Corruption Update first reported on this case six years ago. During predawn hours of …

Union Lawyers Justify Buffalo Operating Engineers Violence

operating-engineerLabor unions in this country for nearly four decades have operated with a grant of near-immunity from the consequences of intimidating employers and non-joining workers or destroying their property. An ongoing federal racketeering and extortion case against upstate New York’s International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17 is underscoring how readily union attorneys rationalize their clients’ “right” to terrorize. The case has taken on an added significance in light of legislation recently introduced to close this loophole, a product of a misguided Supreme Court ruling. Even more noteworthy, one of the attorneys for the local is a former law partner of Mark Pearce, the latter recently becoming chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It’s a small world.

The Lake View, N.Y.-based Operating Engineers Local 17 (Erie County) is a Buffalo-area construction union with a taste for menacing people they don’t like, especially if they happen to be …

Buffalo Operating Engineers Members Arrested for Reign of Terror

operating-engineers-logoWestern New York State has been the focal point of some of the most virulent union intimidation in the country.  Laborers International Union of North America Local 91 (Niagara Falls) and Local 210 (Buffalo) were notorious in their respective heydays, committing numerous crimes against persons and property before being taken down by federal prosecutors.  In the case of LIUNA Local 210, authorities tied more than 15 murders to union officials, members and associates.  Now another union in the region can be added to this list:  Local 17 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.  And its days, too, appear numbered.


During predawn hours of Tuesday, April 8, federal and state law enforcement agents arrested a dozen leaders and members of the Buffalo-based construction union on racketeering and extortion charges cited in an eight-count indictment connected to a longstanding pattern of violence, threats, and property destruction. The
 arrests