LIUNA Ousts Chicago Reformer

The recent ouster of a union-appointed trustee for LIUNA Local 2 has stirred controversy between bosses and reformers within Chicago’s historically corrupt Laborers union. Joe Romano, a veteran United Steelworkers of Am. official, was ousted in Aug. as head of Local 2 by LIUNA’s “in-house prosecutor” Robert D. Luskin. Romano’ s supporters said his outspoken efforts to reform the local prompted his ouster. But, bosses in Chicago and Washington allege that he has not done his job and that the local needs someone with “roots” in the Laborers (which has far greater tradition of corruption than does the Steelworkers).

Romano, coincidentally, was featured prominently in a Sept. 3 article in the Chicago Tribun111e Magazine on union corruption. In the article, Romano voiced his criticism of LIUNA’s reform efforts. He said that he wasn’t sure LIUNA was committed to ending corruption, noting that wrongdoers hadn’t been criminally charged and that some of the Old Guard still held jobs. “There’s not always prosecutions here, that’s the sad thing… So, I question all of this cleaning up. I don’t think we really are allowed to clean up.”

Romano “challenged the whole scheme of things to the point that they couldn’t accept it,” said Ed Sadlowski, a ex-Steelworkers official, who served until recently as supervisor for LIUNA Local 5. Sadlowski said that the current Chicago Laborers’ Dist. Council bosses were eager to remove Romano because they “don’t want reform.”

The ethically-challenged Luskin responded that Romano was replaced by Randy Dalton, LIUNA Local 681’s boss, because the local needed someone to “integrate it” with the CLDC–whatever that means. [Chi. Trib. 9/3/00]