South Carolina Rioters Indicted

S.C. Atty. Gen. Charles M. Condon announced Feb. 8. that a grand jury in Charleston, S.C., has indicted four union-represented dockworkers for their roles in a Jan. 20 Int’l Longshoremen’s Ass’n protest that turned into a street war between several hundred longshoremen and 600 riot police.  The unionists were rioting over the use of nonunion stevedores by a Danish shipping line that had previously used union labor.

Condon said that four people, Elijah Ford, Jr., Rickey Simmons, Kenneth Jefferson and Jason Edgerton, all members of ILA Local 1422, were charged with criminal conspiracy and riot. Ford was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill, while another was charged with assault. The two others were charged with resisting arrest. The assault charges are the most serious and carry prison sentences of up to 10 years, while the riot and criminal conspiracy charges carry jail terms of up to five years. Resisting arrest is punishable by a year in jail. The sentences also can include fines, said Condon, who added that the investigation is continuing. [Post & Courier 2/9/00, BNA 2/10/00]

Federation Gives $500,000 to Teamsters Strike Fund; No RICO Suit Yet
On Feb. 8, the AFL-CIO announced that it would give the Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters $500,000 for a strike fund for IBT’s ongoing campaign against Overnight Transportation Co.  This grant comes on top of $100,000 the AFL-CIO gave to IBT last fall for the strike. [BNA, Chi. Trib 2/9/00]

Ironically in Dec., IBT was reportedly close to filing a treble-damages civil suit under the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act against disgraced ex-boss Ron Carey for his role in the 1996 money-laundering scandal that ejected him from the union. Other defendants reportedly included the AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard L. Trumka [Time 12/27/99]

Question: What’s really going on here?

Buffalo Boss Misused $4,400
John Scardino, ex-president of AFSCME Local 264 in Buffalo, was convicted of six noncriminal charges involving the improper use of over $4,400 in union funds.  According to an AFSCME letter to Local 264 members, Scardino was found guilty by an AFSCME judicial panel. Scardino, who controlled Local 264 for a decade, has made restitution of $4,421.88. Charges against Scardino were referred last Oct. to AFSCME after an audit of the local. Scardino was barred from union leadership. Erie County Dist. Atty. Frank Clark said his office also reviewed the charges and found no criminal violations. [Buffalo News 2/11/00]

Court Holds that Union Must Continuously Inform Members of Rights
 In Thomas v. Grand Lodge of International Association of Machinists, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 27 that unions are obligated under federal law to effectively and continuously inform union members of their rights under the 1959 Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, also know as the Landrum-Griffin Act. The ruling marks the first time the courts have attempted to define unions’ notification obligations under Landrum-Griffin, which was originally established to guarantee workers the right to democratic and corruption-free unions. The unanimous decision gives new teeth to section 105 of the act, which requires labor organizations to inform members of the provisions of the LMRDA. The judicial panel commented that the act is irrelevant without continuous, effective, and meaningful notification of its provisions.

“The LMRDA’s protections are meaningless, however, if members do not know of their existence,” Chief Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote for the panel. “Simply put, if a member does not know of his rights, he cannot exercise them. This is where section 105 kicks in. Section 105 is the statute’s informational linchpin, requiring labor organizations to inform members what rights Congress has granted them.”

Andrew Rotstein, who represented the three Wichita, Kan. IAM dissidents, said the ruling technically applies only to unions in the Fourth Circuit, but carries important national ramifications. He said union members across the country would use the ruling to assert their rights under the LMRDA.  “Our decision affects all labor organizations located in the Fourth Circuit, but I think this should be viewed as a green light for union activists around the country — a green light that section 105 has to be implemented continuously and that they [federal courts] will hold unions responsible for compliance,” said Rotstein of the New York firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher [BNA 1/31/00]