Public agencies shouldn’t be in the business of coercion on behalf of a private-sector union. Apparently, that principle didn’t faze Kenneth Brissette or Timothy Sullivan. On August 7, Brissette and Sullivan, respectively, director of tourism, sports and entertainment and director of intergovernmental affairs for the City of Boston, were convicted of extortion by a jury following a two-week trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against a concert promoter with the intent of forcing the promoter to hire workers from International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 11. The pair had been hit with superseding indictments in June 2016 following a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.
Local government officials can be very creative when it comes to coaxing contractors to hire union labor. And their methods aren’t necessarily legal. On May 17, Kenneth Brissette, director of tourism, sports and entertainment for the City of Boston, was indicted by a federal grand jury for extortion; two days later he was arrested. And on June 29, Brissette, along with Timothy Sullivan, City chief of staff for intergovernmental affairs, received superseding indictments. The defendants allegedly had required a concert promoter a couple of years ago that it would have to hire workers from International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 11 in order to receive the necessary permits for a three-day festival on City Hall Plaza. The indictments follow a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.