Joseph Totaro believes very strongly in improving the quality of his union’s leadership. Unfortunately, his methods leave much to be desired. He’ll have some time to think about it during his stay in federal prison. Totaro, a member of United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 1 in New York City, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on January 30 for making numerous death threats against an unnamed candidate for union business manager. His sentence includes 27 months of incarceration, 21 months of which would have to be served, followed by three years of supervised release and enrollment in a substance abuse program.
Federal prosecutors had charged Totaro with creating and managing a Web site on which he displayed statements, hostile images and threats indicating his desire to kill the local business manager who won election and retained his office. The current business manager is George W. Reilly, first elected to his post in 2003. The U.S. Labor Department’s Inspector General semiannual report did not indicate whether Reilly was the individual whom Totaro had targeted. Pipefitters and Plumbers Local 1 is perhaps best-known as the home union of the late AFL-CIO president, George Meany. Union rank and file members are less than joyful over the prospect of Totaro’s behavior redefining that reputation. (U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 2007-March 31, 2008; other sources).