Racketeering Indictment Reinstated

A state racketeering indictment against the Newspaper & Mail Deliverers Union of N.Y. that was tossed out of court in 1996 has been reinstated. The indictment of NMDU resulted from a 1992 probe by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau which led to charges against 29 bosses for crimes including systematic theft, extortion and beatings. In an unprecedented legal move, Morgenthau charged the union itself with “pervasive and extreme” criminal conduct. Reportedly, NMDU top boss Douglas LaChance and others made deals with the Bonanno and Luchese crime families.

Initially, the case was dismissed by the late trial court judge, Harold Rothwax, who held that a union wasn’t a “person” under the law, and it couldn’t be charged.  But an appellate court overruled Rothwax in Dec. 1998, and in Mar. 1999, N.Y.’s highest court declined to reconsider it. Top Morgenthau prosecutor Daniel Castleman said the ruling is an important legal victory: “It gives us the authority to indict a union.” NMDU lawyer Kenneth O’Conner claims the union would appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. [Daily News 4/19/99]

Union Fined $45.5 Million
On Apr. 15, U.S. Dist. Judge Joe Kendall in Dallas fined the Allied Pilots Ass’n and two of its bosses $45.5 million to reimburse American Airlines for losses due to APA’s sickout in early 1999. On Feb. 13, Kendall held bosses Richard LaVoy and Brian Mayhew as well as the APA in contempt for violating his temporary restraining order to halt a sickout. At that point, Kendall required APA to pay $10 million and each boss $15,000 in escrow until the total fine was set. The union is required to deposit a second $10 million by Apr. 28 and at that time Kendell will decided the three parties’ remaining liability portions. [BNA 4/19-20/99]

FEC Blasts New York AFL-CIO
The Fed. Election Commission announced Apr. 9 that it voted 5-0 to admonish the N.Y. AFL-CIO for violating federal campaign finance law by endorsing a congressional candidate on its website. It resolved a complaint filed by the Republican Party regarding N.Y.’s 13th Congressional Dist.’s special election in 1997. The GOP charged that the N.Y. AFL-CIO improperly aided candidate Eric Vitaliano (D) with tens of thousands of dollars in “soft money” contributions. Vitaliano lost to now-Rep. Vito Fossella (R). The FEC came up short on all GOP charges, except for the website claim. Reportedly, the N.Y. AFL-CIO wrongfully reprinted a page from its newsletter on the website endorsing Vitaliano. The FEC allows such endorsements by unions only if they are made to union members, not broadcast to the general public. [BNA 4/19/99]

District Attorney Probes Wisconsin Union
The Milwaukee County Dist. Atty.’s Office confirmed Apr. 19 that it has opened an investigation into whether the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Ass’n broke the law by not disclosing who underwrote its campaign ads attacking Milwaukee School Board Member John Gardner. The union wants the source of money used to remain secret. But Gardner’s complaint charges the MTEA violated campaign finance law by spending at least $250,000 on T.V. ads, signs, mailings and other activities aimed at unseating him. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 4/20/99]

“[Don’t] behave like Teamsters or you will be treated like Teamsters.”

– Anne Arundel (Md.) County Police Chief, P. Thomas Shanahan, threat to Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70 after a dozen county police officers amassed their patrol cars on a county highway, creating delays for commuters, to draw attention to police union issues. [Washington Post 4/10/99]