Pennsylvania Workers Join Lawsuit Against Snoopy Unions

Organized labor has never been too keen on the right to privacy – at least the privacy of workers who might be reluctant to join and need some persuading. About a thousand workers at the Cintas Corp. plant in Emmaus, Pa. have joined in a suit over what they say are overly aggressive organizing tactics by two major unions. The employees allege that for two years, during July 1, 2002-August 2, 2004, members of UNITE and the Teamsters copied down license plate numbers of workers’ parked cars at the plant, subsequently sending organizers or mailing information to their homes.

The employees are basing their complaint on a 1994 federal law, the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, prohibiting the disclosure and use of personal information obtained through motor-vehicle records. Late last spring U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell had granted class-action status to Cintas workers in Pichler v. UNITE et al. Read More ➡

Washington State Bookkeeper Charged with Theft to Go on Trial

One side calls it embezzlement; the other calls it a rookie mistake.  Either way, Kimberly Solheim has been through a learning experience.  The former bookkeeper for Division 402 of the Local Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in Pasco, Washington, is set to go on trial in federal court on January 23 for embezzling nearly $15,000 from the union.  Prosecutors maintain that she diverted the funds into her own account during July 2001-July 2003.  “The union has no source of income other than the dues, and it only has one account,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory Shogren. “She was acting as bookkeeper and wrote checks to herself and her husband.”  But her husband, Kurt Solheim, is making a case that his wife never intended harm.  “It was a clerical error that spun out of control,” he said.  “She wasn’t aware of all the federal Read More ➡

Gotti Ally D’Amico Becomes New Gambino Boss; Denies It, Too

Even in the Mafia, policy is personnel. And the Gambino crime organization takes its time before hiring someone for the job of CEO. The word on the street is that there’s a new boss: John “Jackie Nose” D’Amico. Jerry Capeci, editor of the Web site,, was one of the first of many news sources to break the story. A longtime family capo, D’Amico isn’t far removed from the two-decade succession of Gottis that ran the family business. Yet he denies being in charge. “I’m insignificant,” he told the New York Daily News. “I’m not important. I take the 4 train, the 5 train, the 6 train. That’s the only way I travel. I don’t have a chauffeur-driven car.” 


So who is this guy anyway? John D’Amico, 69, was a trusted right-hand man of John Gotti until the Teflon Don’s conviction in 1992 on more than a dozen counts Read More ➡

Genovese Boss Gigante Dies; Corrupt, But Was He Crazy?

vinnie-giganteThe media dubbed him “the Oddfather.” But if Vincent “the Chin” Gigante’s decades-long bizarre public behavior had succeeded as a ploy to avoid a criminal conviction, what matters most here was that as the reigning boss of New York’s Genovese Mafia family, he controlled a criminal empire that included any number of labor unions. Gigante, 77, died of heart disease on December 19 in a federal prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri. His death marks the passing of an era, the final act in a roughly 60-year career in organized crime.    


With his pompadour hair and pugilist face, Vincent Gigante was straight out of central casting. He was born in the Bronx in March 29, 1928, one of five sons, to Neapolitan immigrant parents. School didn’t agree with him. He dropped out of Manhattan’s Textile High in the ninth grade, latching onto a world of petty crime Read More ➡

AFSCME Secretary in Connecticut Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

It may take a while before the till at American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 1522 in Bridgeport, Connecticut is fully replenished. On the bright side, the two people who raided its cookie jar are out of the way. On December 15, Jacqueline Sikorski, formerly the local’s secretary-treasurer, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to embezzling funds. Court records show that Sikorski, 62, during the period February 1999-February 2002 embezzled $26,256 by cashing union checks for fictitious or exaggerated expenses, and then diverting the money for personal use. The local represents various employees of the City of Bridgeport and the privately-owned Bridgeport Health Care Center

Sikorski’s guilty plea follows that of former Local 1522 President Gary Gourley back in September. During his tenure as local head during January 1999-March 2002, Gourley, 55, ripped off more than $63,000, writing 258 union checks that either had falsified Read More ➡

Ex-Niagara Falls, N.Y. President Has to Find New Lawyer

The gang that ran Laborers Local 91 during the late-90s and the early part of this decade has been put out of operation.  Following a massive FBI raid in May 2002 and subsequent indictments, a dozen former local officials and members thus far have been convicted of felonies, with only one being acquitted.  But the day of reckoning for the biggest catch of all, Mark Congi, the union’s ex-president, will have to wait.  On Tuesday, December 13, U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara, at the behest of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, disqualified defense lawyer Paul J. Cambria from representing Congi and three other defendants.  Judge Arcara held that Cambria had conflicts of interest due to his past associations with potential government witnesses. 


Jury selection in the case had been scheduled to begin this January 1.  In the meantime, Congi, 45, remains in jail, having Read More ➡

Florida Ex-Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On November 18, Donald Dixon, ex-treasurer and bookkeeper for Local 623 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to embezzling union funds.  He was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $106,152.  Dixon had been indicted in July following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Tampa Resident Investigator Office.  (OLMS, 12/20).


Ex-Local President in New Orleans Charged with Embezzlement

On December 7, a U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana filed an information count against Roy E. Jones, Jr., ex-president of Local 3450 of the Communications Workers of America, for embezzlement.  He is charged with stealing approximately $66,000 from the New Orleans-based local.  The action follows an investigation by the Department of Labor.  (12/20).


North Dakota Local Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Read More ➡

Body in Car Trunk Was Ricci’s; Funeral Held

Not too many people thought Lawrence Ricci disappeared on his own accord. He’d already testified before a federal courtroom jury in Brooklyn, N.Y.  And when he remained missing even after being acquitted of conspiracy and wire fraud charges related to a union benefit diversion scheme, the likelihood his vanishing was voluntary became even more remote. Now everyone’s worst suspicions have been confirmed: Ricci was killed. And his death – his body was discovered in the trunk of a car – has all the marks of a mob hit. Ricci, 60, a reputed acting capo of the Genovese crime family, had been on trial along with two top officials of the International Longshoremen’s Association, Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey, both of whom, like Ricci, wound up acquitted. Another union official, Albert Cernadas, pleaded guilty prior to the trial. 


The case centered on whether ILA officials steered a union pharmaceutical contract Read More ➡

Union Takes Over Chicago-Area Local; Major Issues Remain

The International Association of Iron Workers seemed willing to overlook a lot of things that had gone wrong at Riggers Local 136 in the Chicago suburb of River Grove, Illinois.  Former longtime local boss Fred Schreier had pleaded guilty in federal court to graft.  The Department of Labor this July filed a lawsuit alleging financial irregularities in the pension and welfare accounts of this and other Iron Workers locals.  And the Justice Department had begun a probe into long-suspected mob influence at Local 136.  But when local bosses stopped forwarding dues, it was time for the international union to take over the show. 


A few days after Thanksgiving, the Washington, D.C.-based IAIW placed the local under receivership, stripping elected officers – including President Frank DiMarco – of their authority, and removing the local’s seats from various pension boards.  The supervision period, Read More ➡

New York State Says “No” to Genovese-Linked Contractor

tony-salernoThese past few years have been heady times for Worth Construction. The Bethel, Conn.-based contractor has become one of the largest in the New York City area. It’s been building roads, schools, hospitals, sewage treatment plants, and government buildings, generating $186 million in revenues in 2004 alone. Unfortunately, its president, Joseph Pontoriero, has been keeping the wrong kind of company – the Genovese crime family kind. For certain regulators and law enforcement agencies, these associations have raised red flags. There have been enough of them at any rate for New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi to deny the company the eligibility to compete for a $46 million Thruway Authority contract. An ongoing investigation of the contractor may implicate certain members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.


Joseph Pontoriero, documents recently filed in federal court in Connecticut indicate, is no mere associate of the Genovese clan; he’s a full-fledged Read More ➡