Chicago Local Skirts DOL Accord

The Dep’t of Justice asked U.S. Dist. Judge Charles P. Kocoras to hold Int’l Bhd. of Electrical Workers Local 134 in Chicago in contempt of court for violating a settlement that allowed bosses to stay in office. The Mar. 1999 agreement settled a suit brought by the Dep’t of Labor against Local 134 seeking to void its 1998 election. The suit alleged employer funds were used by boss Michael Fitzgerald’s winning slate.

Under the settlement, Local 134 agreed that DOL would supervise the next election in 2001. The agreement also required that member Charlie Chathas, who protested the election with DOL, be allowed to send out a letter to members responding to one sent out by Fitzgerald, before the settlement, that accused Chathas of “conspiring to overthrow” his slate. Local 134 refused to distribute the letter, which DOL approved, and that violated the agreement, said Asst. U.S. Atty. Craig A. Oswald. “Failure to comply could potentially jeopardize the entire settlement,” he said.

However, no contempt of court citation was issued. Judge Kocoras said Aug. 26 the local must send the letter, but it may include a disclaimer saying it doesn’t reflect the bosses’ views.

Local 134 also agreed under the settlement to sever ties with a social club that allegedly funneled proceeds to Fitzgerald’s campaign.  Local 134 has a scandal-scared history. In 1992, ex-boss Timothy Bresnahan pled guilty to charges that he had dipped into a union slush fund to buy a car for his son and other personal items. In 1990, ex-boss Edmond M. Ryan, Jr., pled guilty to lying about misuse of funds during a probe that led IBEW to seize control of the local. [Chicago Sun-Times 8/19 & 27/99]

“After five decades of organized corruption in a union, corruption does not go away in one year or ten.”

– Randy Mastro, Asst. U.S. Atty. in Manhattan, commenting on Teamsters boss James P. Hoffa’s bid to end the governments’ ten year supervision over the corrupt union. [N.Y. Times 8/14/99] Someone should tell this guy to get involved in LIUNA’s failed “internal reform effort” in which the government has wrongfully allowed LIUNA to manage its own cleanup.