DOJ-LIUNA Meet over Future of Oversite Agreement

The Dep’t of Justice and the Laborers’ Int’l Union of No. Am. have been meeting behind closed doors to determine the next phase of DOJ’s five-year quasi-oversight agreement with LIUNA that expires Jan. 31, 2000. The Feb. 1995 agreement stopped DOJ from filing a racketeering suit against LIUNA and created LIUNA’s failed “internal reform effort.”  The initial deal was to end in 1998, but DOJ and LIUNA have extended it for one-year in 1998 and 1999.

Reportedly, some type of DOJ oversight will continue, but DOJ and LIUNA have declined to give any details. According to the ethically-challenged Robert D. Luskin, LIUNA’s “in-house prosecutor,” “everybody is feeling comfortable with the atmosphere and direction” of the DOJ-LIUNA meetings.  A decision is expected in early Jan.

LIUNA general counsel Michael S. Bearse, said the so-called internal reform effort has “accomplished what we said it would do.” According to Bearse, both sides want “reasonable reassurances” that the so-called progress of the reform effort will continue — it is just a matter of “agreeing on the mechanism.” [Engineering News-Rec. 12/20/99]

Prediction: With ex-president Arthur A. Coia ousted and DOJ involved in racketeering suits against LIUNA Local 210 in Buffalo and the Chicago Laborers Dist. Council (which were all prime targets of the 1994 draft-RICO), DOJ may calculate that LIUNA’s reform effort is of little use and effectively dispense with this defective oversite agreement.

Court Upholds Failed “Internal Reform Effort”
The U.S. 7th Cir. Court of Appeals Dec. 17 rejected a challenge by the Chicago Laborers Dist. Council to LIUNA’s authority to place it under a trustee’s control. Saying that CLDC failed to demonstrate LIUNA had targeted it for unwarranted discipline, the court called CLDC’s argument that LIUNA acted in “bad faith” in imposing the trusteeship “meritless.” CLDC was placed in trusteeship in Feb. 1998. The court also rejected CLDC’s claims that LIUNA’s Ethics & Disciplinary Procedure, which was established in 1995 under a controversial agreement between LIUNA and DOJ, was improperly enacted. The same court previously upheld the EDP and the LIUNA-DOJ scam.

The ethically-challenged Robert D. Luskin, LIUNA’s “in-house prosecutor,” said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling. “We are long past the point where there are arguments about the scope of our authority or the validity of our mission,” Luskin bragged. “In five years, we have not lost so much as a motion in district court.” Luskin filed a complaint against CLDC in June 1997 alleging the body had been under the control of Chicago crime bosses for at least 25 years. Peter Vaira, LIUNA’s “in-house judge,” endorsed the action, arguing that a trusteeship was necessary to expel the influence of organized crime, etc. Tainted labor attorney Robert E. Bloch was appointed trustee.

CLDC refused Bloch access to its building. LIUNA and Bloch eventually gained a restraining order, barring CLDC and its board from interfering with the trusteeship. CLDC filed a counterclaim and LIUNA sought summary judgment. Among other things, CLDC alleged an improper relationship between Luskin and disgraced ex-boss Arthur A. Coia. CLDC also alleged it was a disciplinary strike against CLDC boss Bruno Caruso, who had run against Coia. U.S. Dist. Judge James B. Moran sided with LIUNA. On appeal, CLDC argued that it was the victim of a tainted hearing process and that LIUNA’s “bad faith” and “unclean hands” precluded summary judgment.  U.S. Appeals Judge John L. Coffey found such arguments meritless.

CLDC attorney Allan A. Ackerman described the ruling as “misguided.” He noted that the court ignored arguments pertaining to LIUNA’s ability to oust CLDC officers democratically elected by its membership. He said CLDC is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on that issue and the issue of bad faith.  Luskin pledged, “You’ll see me push a peanut down State Street with my nose if cert is granted in this case.”  [BNA 12/23/99]