Violence Ravages Puerto Rico

Protesters planted bombs, smashed bank machines and severed and burned phone cables on Jun. 25, reacting with fury to the privatization of Puerto Rico’s phone company. One bomb exploded in a policeman’s hands. The bomb, concealed in a flashlight, was planted at a branch of Banco Popular, part of a consortium buying the Puerto Rico Telephone Co. It tore a finger off the officer’s right hand and wounded his left hand and leg.

Two large unions began a financial offensive against Banco Popular. The General Workers’ Council withdrew $40 million from accounts on Jun. 25, and the Teachers Association of Puerto Rico said it transferred $100 million out of the bank. The rash of sabotage started shortly after Gov. Pedro Rossello signed a law on Jun. 24 completing the $1.9 billion sale of the phone company, known as Telefonica, to a consortium led by GTE Corp.
 
Being told by … Read More ➡

Connecticut Union Bosses Settle Case

State AFL-CIO President John Olsen and 13 other fund trustees agreed on Jun. 10 to pay more than $2 million in restitution and another $416,000 in civil penalties. The Labor Department sued Olsen and other trustees of the CT Plumbers & Pipefitters pension fund over investments the department said were risky and led to losses of $2-3 million.

Olsen will be able to continue serving as a financial guardian of union pension funds under the terms of a settlement. The money will be paid by an insurance policy, not the trustees themselves.
 
In the original lawsuit, the department had asked that Olsen and the other trustees be permanently barred from serving as financial guardians to employee benefit plans. The settlement includes no such prohibition, although it does require the trustees to carefully evaluate potential risks. [Hartford Courant 06/11/98]

Longshoreman Pleads Guilty
A union dockworker pleaded guilty Jun. 12 for … Read More ➡

Teamsters Congressional Hearings Continue

  • On Jun. 11, the court-appointed Teamsters Independent Review Board said it would “consider” investigating acting Teamsters President Tom Sever for refusing to conduct an internal probe of possible wrongdoing by top officials during Ron Carey’s administration who are still working at Teamsters HQ. IRB was responding to Rep. Hoekstra’s request for a probe into Sever. “If Mr. Sever is willfully ignoring the corruption and misuse of [Teamsters] assets and personnel, he should be held accountable,” said Hoekstra. [Detroit News 06/12/98]
  • On Jun. 15, Hoekstra subpoenaed Sever in an effort to obtain documents critical to the probe. He said the subpoena of makes Sever “personally accountable” to Congress for the release of documents that have been sought by the subcommittee since Feb. In May, Sever declined to tell the subcommittee why the union paid $250,000 to White House Counsel Charles F.C. Ruff when Ruff was a Teamsters attorney. He also refused
Read More ➡

LIUNA Radicals Loose in California

Despite a LIUNA nurse and hospital technicians strike that threaten patient health and radical leaflet propaganda, the Tenet Corporation which owns San Francisco’s Redding Medical Center was able to keep the center an “open shop.” LIUNA went on strike Jun. 4, but a federal mediator got them back to the table the next day. On Jun. 23, the union relented and although the hospital made concessions, it remains an open shop which means union membership will not be a condition of employment. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/25/98 & Providence Journal-Bulletin 06/05/98]

Trumka & Co. Incite Radicalism
Jun. 24 was the AFL-CIO’s “Day to Make Our Voices Heard” which is the latest AFL-CIO P.R. stunt designed to incite radicalism in union members. Small protests in allegedly 70 cities were held across the country. As part of the festivities, registered nurses in Vancouver, WA left a medical center understaffed. Longshoremen shut down … Read More ➡

CWA Tries to Stop WorldCom-MCI Merger

On Jun. 19, Communications Workers of America opened new battle to block merger of WorldCom & MCI, saying in detailed analysis that deal would deprive the companies of access to capital and cut, rather than expand, local competition. CWA filed a statement with the FCC complaining the merger is anti-competitive, and in its latest disclosure its “union economist” claims the merger fails tests set by FCC. CWA’s action came the same day that European antitrust authorities moved close to approving the transaction. Analysts strongly believe, despite the best attempts of union radicals, the merger will go through. [Communications Daily 06/22/98]

Newspaper Workers Break from CWA
Employees of the San Diego Union-Tribune voted Jun. 11 to decertify Newspaper Guild Local 95 of CWA as their bargaining agent. In an NLRB-monitored election, 406 workers voted against continued representation by the Guild while 378 voted to keep the union. Some 844 employees in … Read More ➡

Militancy Pays in Madison

Billboards urging customers to shun Walgreens drug stores are up around Madison, WI, as part of a continuing battle between local union electrical workers and the pharmacy firm. The battle began when Walgreens hired a non-union electrical contractor as part of an expansion of a distribution center. But although the job is nearly complete, bitterness remains and could spill over into other states. The union is upset because a portion of the $50 million project went to a non-union contractor. The move so angered International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159 that it set up a picket line for 132 days calling it off only after Walgreens hired a union electrical contractor to do inside wiring as part of the renovation. [Madison Capital Times 06/09/98]

SEIU Organizing Blitz Descends on L.A.
For 2 weeks starting Jun. 14, some 70 organizers from Service Employees International Union locals around the country will … Read More ➡

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 ➡