Union Disrupts Delaware River Bridge Board Meeting

The Delaware River Port Authority ejected union members from its meeting Jun.17 following a rowdy protest on behalf of 12 workers terminated for blocking traffic during a demonstration in May. Unionists turned out to support the toll collectors, and maintenance and construction workers fired last week by the Port Authority. The workers were fired for shutting down the Benjamin Franklin Bridge during a protest May 16. The agency said they created an unsafe condition on the span.
 
Shortly after the meeting began, Bill Kane, president of the NJ State Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO, sought permission to address the commissioners. Union members, who lined the perimeter of the room, stood and began
clapping. They chanted,”Let him speak!”as the chairman pounded the gavel, attempting to restore order. The chairman declared the protesters out of order and directed the sergeants-at-arms and security to remove them from the room. The union members left … Read More ➡

From Worcester Telegram & Gazette editorial [06/23/98]: “Unreasonable concessions lead to more demands”:

“It is good that a prolonged bus strike has been averted in Worcester. But the question is: at what price?
[The] one-day strike, staged by the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO, was described as an “illegal” job action by Robert E. Ojala, administrator of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority. That may have been an understatement. The specter of labor action by this union has been lingering for some time. It threatened to picket the Worcester Centrum Centre during the Democratic State Convention, but a last-minute compromise negotiated by the city manager and the mayor saved the city from embarrassment.
 
Evidently, this time the union was determined to call a strike, no matter how flexible management has been. And management has been flexible to a fault. Some of the concessions the WRTA made to avert a strike – often under political pressure – are outright unreasonable. For … Read More ➡

Court Denies Hoekstra Sealed Papers

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Cornelius Blackshear has denied a request by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) for sealed documents pertaining to the bitter dispute involving Mademoiselle Knitwear, a union contractor; Liz Claiborne Inc., and UNITE. In an Jun. 8 order, Blackshear did not give a reason for his denial other than to say that his court, where Mademoiselle is in Chapter 11 proceedings, “is primarily concerned with maintaining the sanctity of the confidentiality agreement and the fidelity of the case.”
 
Hoekstra sought access to the documents as part of a congressional probe he is leading into the adequacy of U.S. labor law. A key element in the Mademoiselle controversy consists of multimillion-dollar payments made by Claiborne to UNITE under the practice of liquidated damages — penalties paid by union manufacturers to UNITE when they turn to nonunion production — and the issue of liquidated damages has become a focal point in … Read More ➡

Poshard & AFL-CIO Dance Around Disclosure Laws

U.S. Rep. Glenn Poshard (D-IL) has filed papers acknowledging help from a union, but he continues to deny GOP charges that he violated campaign finance disclosure laws. The Democrat’s gubernatorial campaign filed a statement with the Illinois State Board of Elections Jun. 23 disclosing the spending of $108,000 by the AFL-CIO to run radio ads boosting Poshard near the end of the primary campaign.
 
The Illinois Republican Party filed a complaint with the state board charging that Poshard failed to disclose the in-kind contribution within the required 2 business days. The GOP is claiming that Poshard’s filing of the statement is an admission that he violating the law by not filing it earlier. The federation spent more than $200,000 on radio spots for Poshard in the last 2 weeks before the Mar. 17 primary.
 
Poshard takes pride in refusing to accept donations from corporations, political action committees and … Read More ➡

Rep. Norwood Holding Program Accountable

The Labor Department’s removal of Guess? Inc. from its list of apparel manufacturers and retailers that have voluntarily taken steps to ensure their goods are not made in sweatshop conditions drew criticism at a Jun. 19 congressional hearing. The so-called “Trendsetters List” came under scrutiny as part of an ongoing congressional review of the agency’s program administration and law enforcement efforts. At issue is whether the Labor Department acted arbitrarily in designating companies for the list, possibly running afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act.
 
How department officials decided which companies met its criteria for inclusion on the list was the focus of the hearing by the Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), who chaired the hearing, questioned both the agency’s decisions as to which companies to place on the list as well as its subsequent move to put Guess on “probation.”
  … Read More ➡

N.Y. Teamsters Indicted

6 Teamsters were arrested in connection with a 14-man crime-ring that was stealing and reselling electronic equipment, clothing and jewelry in N.Y. Each faces up to 10 years in prison. Many of the stolen items were sold to an undercover FBI agent in 67 transactions according to U.S. District Court records. The 6 were UPS drivers. UPS notified the FBI that it had suspected criminal activity. [A.P. 06/11/98]

Violent Teamsters Shut Down CA Port
The Port of Hueneme, near L.A., was shut down on Jun. 1 due to a violent Teamsters strike sparked by a dispute over 2 forklift workers’ salaries. The reportedly illegal strike idled hundreds of workers and stranded 3 cargo-laden ships.
Police were present to stop Teamsters’ violence against Longshoremen wishing to cross the picket line. All 250 members of the International Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union honored the picket line until an arbitrator ruled that the strike … Read More ➡

Coia Warned Against Retaliating Against Witnesses

Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-IL), chairman of a House subcommittee examining union abuses against members, sent letter to Laborers Int’l. Union of North America president Arthur A. Coia, warning him against acts of retaliation against individuals testifying before the committee.

Coia as long-been suspected of being under the influence of organized crime. In 1997, LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor filed charges against Coia for knowingly associating with organized crime and permitting organized crime to influence LIUNA affairs.

“We can not, and will not, tolerate any retaliation against any witness and we will take every step necessary and possible to protect them,” wrote Fawell in the May 27 letter. Stephen Manos, vice-president LIUNA Local 230 in Hartford, told the committee his Congressional testimony has “further exacerbated” acts of harassment, intimidation and retaliation against him, including a recent complaint filed in U.S. District Court by Local 230’s business manager Charles LeConche accusing him of … Read More ➡

Luskin’s Big Bucks from LIUNA

LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor Robert D. Luskin, who is responsible for the integrity of LIUNA’s “internal reform effort,” admitted to being paid about $4 million from LIUNA since Nov. 1994 in the Jun. 7 Washington Post . It’s a rare public account of what LIUNA has paid to Luskin and his 11-lawyer firm.

$4 million over 44 months (11/94 to 06/98) equals $90,909 a month, or… $1,090,909 a year… $20,979 a week… $4,196 a day…$524 a hour (at 40 hours a week)… $8.74 a minute… all thanks to the mandatory unions dues of LIUNA members. Note too that LIUNA is not Luskin’s only client.

Laborers Fired Over Pay Questions
On May 29, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority upheld the firings of 2 LIUNA electricians at Orlando’s airport for reportedly falsifying payroll records. The records in question show the 2 collected $34,000 for over 1,500 hours of allegedly bogus overtime. LIUNA Local … Read More ➡

Clothing Union Corruption

According to Rep. Hoekstra’s subcommittee, the bosses of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees are profiting from their members job losses due to a special industry proviso in federal labor law.
The May 27 report states UNITE receives “liquated damages” from companies for contract breaches which include relocating production overseas. UNITE treats the payments as its own since no explicit obligation exists to distribute the money to its members.

“So as contracts leave the country and UNITE’s members lose their jobs, UNITE itself continues to receive ‘a piece of the action’… Over the past few decades garment unions have lost more than half of their membership to overseas competition. Yet during that same time, UNITE and its predecessors became the richest of all unions, as measured on an assets per member basis. UNITE not only on owns the Amalgamated Bank of New York, but also owns much prime … Read More ➡

CWA Accused of Inducing Fear About Disabled

In a June 2 letter, the Developmental Disabilities Council, a New Jersey watchdog group on state policy, accused the Communications Workers of America of threatening to expose the names of group home residents who have criminal records or a history of behavior problems in order to halt the closing of state institutions for the disabled. The group’s director Ethan Ellis said, “This degrades the public images of people with developmental disabilities irreparably. It is going to take years to repair that damage.” [Bergen Co. Record 06/03/98]

Tainted Ex-President Reinstated
On June 3 in St. Louis, a U.S. District Judge had Service Employees Int’l. Union Local 50 to reinstated its ex-president William Stodghill. He was ousted from office and the union in 1996 amid allegations of wrongly spending the union’s funds for his personal expenses. Current local president Don Rudd said, “Stodghill was found guilty of improperly using members’ money at … Read More ➡