Ohio Firm Files Racketeering Suit against USWA and Trumka

AK Steel Co., which has been the target of an eight-month United Steelworkers of Am. campaign, filed suit May 8 against USWA, its bosses, and the AFL-CIO under the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act in federal court in Southern Ohio.

The suit “alleges that the union and certain individuals have engaged in unlawful, violent, extortionate, and racketeering acts spanning decades in violation of [RICO].” The alleged unlawful acts include having “engineered, carried out, condoned or tolerated acts of attempted murder, bombings and threats of rape and murder” against employees and their families, said AK.

Approximately 620 members of USWA Local 169 have been idle since Sept. 1, when Armco Inc., with whom AK merged on Sept. 30, locked them out of its Mansfield plant after parties didn’t reach a collective bargaining agreement. AK said its predecessor locked out the workers because of vandalism, production disruptions, and threats against the company, its employees, and their families. AK has continued to operate the plant with replacement workers.

The 173-page complaint says that the company has suffered millions of dollars of damage as a result of these activities and that it is entitled to treble damages under RICO. It alleges 13 acts of arson and more than 165 acts of extortion by the USWA against AK Steel and its contractors since Sept., AK said.

In addition to USWA and the AFL-CIO, the lawsuit also names as defendants USWA Local 169, USWA president George Becker, USWA secretary-treasurer Leo Gerard, and AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard L. Trumka (who has invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid federal investigators’ questions in a union corruption probe). [BNA 5/10/00]