More Charges Added RICO Suit Against USWA

A federal judge on Sept. 13 granted AK Steel Corp.’s motion requesting to amend the federal Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act lawsuit it filed May 8, 2000 against the United Steelworkers of America and other defendants. The complaint alleges the defendants have engaged in unlawful, violent, extortionate and racketeering acts against AK Steel and numerous other companies.

Additionally, the second amended complaint asserts that Administrative Law Judge Thomas M. Patton of the National Labor Relations Board found on Aug. 2, 2000, that the USWA and two of its locals were jointly liable for approximately 80 unlawful, violent acts committed against Rocky Mountain Steel (Pueblo, Col.) and its replacement workers. Patton also found that the USWA and its locals deliberately destroyed crucial documents relative to the trial.  Judge Patton found the USWA and its locals had caused and encouraged violent misconduct and that their relentless propaganda campaign against so-called “goon-guards” encouraged violence. Patton admonished the union by saying, “Rather than repudiating and disavowing picket line misconduct or otherwise taking serious steps to prevent misconduct, the Union sought to excuse misconduct by blaming APT guards.”

Among Patton’s findings were nearly 50 incidents in which USWA picketers spat upon, dented and scratched replacement workers’ vehicles, causing more than $35,000 in damage.  In an interview with the trade publication New Steel magazine published in June, USWA president George Becker was quoted as saying, “Standing out there with a picket sign, yelling at someone going by, or spitting on a truck, or even taking a sign and smacking it along side of a truck — I don’t consider that violence.”

AK Steel’s complaint alleges that Rocky Mountain Steel is one of many companies targeted by the USWA’s racketeering and corrupt practices since at least 1979.  The complaint now alleges the USWA and its co-conspirators are responsible for more than a dozen acts of arson and more than 250 acts of extortion against AK Steel, primarily in Mansfield, Ohio where members of USWA Local 169 have been locked out since Sept. 1, 1999. In a recent Mansfield incident, the words “Die scab” were scratched into the paint of a replacement employee’s vehicle according to AK Steel’s RICO complaint.

The RICO complaint alleges that AK Steel has already sustained millions of dollars in damages but that a specific amount cannot be determined because defendants’ actions in furtherance of the conspiracy continue.  The suit alleges AK Steel is entitled to recover three times the damages it has sustained.  According to the complaint, USWA and certain of its officers and agents have employed a strategy utilizing violence, intimidation, threats, coercion and extortion in its dispute with AK Steel in Mansfield.  According to the complaint, riots, murderous threats and attempts to completely destroy companies are common tools used by the USWA in labor disputes when employers exercise their legal rights to operate with replacement workers.

Named in the 200-page lawsuit as defendants in addition to the USWA are: Local 169, USWA, AFL-CIO, Richard L. Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, George F. Becker, president of the international USWA and Leo W. Gerard, secretary-treasurer of the USWA. [AK Steel, Media Release, 9/14/00]