Massachusetts Boss Breaks Election Deal

The U.S. Dep’t of Labor will ask a court to force Int’l Bhd. of Elec.l Workers Local 1505 in Boston to honor an agreement that it would rerun last year’s election of officers.  Mark Letizi of DOL’s Office of Labor Management Standards said DOL wants a court to order Local 1505 to hold a new election under federal supervision. The local had agreed on Mar. 28 to hold a rerun in June, but in May local bosses backed out of the deal.

“The union has canceled our agreement, which was voluntary and reached prior to any litigation,” Letizi said. “So we will seek to overturn the results of the initial election.”

The June 1999 election results were disqualified after some union members alleged there were irregularities, including the use of union funds to back a boss’ campaign and a lack of privacy during the actual balloting. Michael T. Zagami against George Noel had a bitter campaign for business manager. Zagami won, but Noel maintained in a letter to the IBEW’s international office in Washington that he and his backers were threatened and intimidated by Zagami and his supporters. IBEW’s international bosses found no reason to toss out the election, so Noel appealed to DOL, which set aside the results and came to the now defunct agreement

Zagami reportedly backed out of the agreement because an election would be a distraction that could give the employer, Raytheon, an advantage at the bargaining table. “I want to put the election aside until negotiations over a new contract, which begin in two weeks, are over. After the contract is signed and done, we can revisit the election and [DOL].”

Zagami blasted Noel as a disgruntled opponent who has filed more than 50 complaints demanding a new election. As for secret balloting concerns, he said, “There was an issue over privacy because the voting booths we’ve been using for the last 30 years are too short.”

Noel also reportedly claimed that Zagami wrongly used union stationery during his campaign, got shop stewards to pass out flyers in violation of election rules, and did not pay all of his union dues before the election, as required. [Boston Globe 5/23/00]