IBT imposed a trusteeship Jun. 18 on Local 19 in Grapevine, Tex. J.D. Potter headed Local 19 who was disqualified from holding office for campaign finance violations and was a running mate of IBT boss James P. Hoffa. The justification for the takeover was the local leadership’s failure to adequately serve the members. Louisville, Ky., Local 2727 boss, Joe Darmento was named trustee and Local 19 business manager Mike Ellison, deputy trustee. IBT spokesman Bret Caldwell said the decision to move against a former campaign slate member shows that the Hoffa administration is prepared to take action regardless of the local leadership. “This is not politics,” he said. “We’re here for the members.” Potter also faces pending IRB charges of lying to election officials and IRB investigators about his campaign contributions. [BNA 6/22/99]
New York Unions Raided in Three-State Probe
Over 300 law enforcement officers raided over two dozen sites in Conn., N.J. and N.Y. in a corruption probe into N.Y.C. Carpenters and Laborers unions. Led by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau, the probe reportedly focuses on alleged payoffs to union bosses, often with organized crime involved. Hundreds of boxes of records were seized. United Bhd. of Carpenters Local 608 and Laborers’ Int’l Union of No. Am. Local 79, both in N.Y., were among the sites hit. Also hit was an unidentified Bricklayers local in Queens. In Linden, N.J., investigators raided the offices of S&S Contracting, a firm owned by Sara Riggi, daughter of John Riggi, reputed head of the N.J..based DeCavalcante crime family. Other reports said the probe involves the Luchese and Genovese crime families. [Daily News 6/17/99, Bergen County Record 6/18/99]
New Mexico Union Loses $1.6 Million Suit
Ex-union organizer, Jeremias Silva, won a $1.6 million verdict over the Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees from a federal jury Jun. 17 on his claims of retaliation. The jurors awarded Silva $624,740 in compensatory damages after deciding he had been fired “in violation of public policy” and $1 million in punitive damages. Silva claimed he was fired in Feb. 1998 because he met with law enforcement to report on alleged illegal activities of AFSCME bosses Luis Arellano and his wife, Evelina Marquez. Arellano is the N.M. AFSCME president, and Marquez is an AFSCME area union director. Both were also defendants in the suit.
Silva allegedly met with the FBI and N.M. State Police in Jul. 1997. Soon after, Silva said, Arellano and Marquez seized his pager and “began a series of acts that included assigning him out of state, requiring longer and more stressful work weeks… culminating with his discharge.” Arellano and Marquez claimed they weren’t responsible because they weren’t Silva’s employer. [Albuquerque Journal 6/18/99]