President Bush’s nominee for ambassador to Canada has ties to a union boss who is under investigation for shaking down Hollywood production crews shooting in New England. Mass. Gov. Paul Cellucci’s nomination comes as a federal grand jury and the Dep’t of Labor probe possible illegal actions by Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 25. Indictments in the case reportedly could come down anytime. Cellucci has repeatedly denied any knowledge of IBT misconduct, and a spokesman said the labor controversy will not harm his confirmation. Hearings on his confirmation before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee are expected in a couple of weeks.
Local 25 president George Cashman and local transportation coordinator Larry Flynn are reportedly among the targets of the federal investigations. Cashman was reappointed by Cellucci to the union seat on the powerful Mass. Port Auth.board. The union boss also was among those who accompanied the governor on a 1997 “trade mission” to L.A. to woo the studios.
The trade mission apparently didn’t help because Local 25’s reputation is so bad for featherbedding and other illegal activities that film production in Mass. has dropped precipitously, according to a Feb. report on the local by retired state Superior Court Judge Robert Barton. Local 25 has jurisdiction over drivers on movie crews in Mass., Vt., Me., and N.H. The alleged union practices add between $1 million-$2 million to the cost of making a film in Mass. Barton also recommended that Cellucci should avoid getting involved in negotiations with the film industry because the governor’s intervention was often “counterproductive.” The report, ordered by Cellucci, also found no “improper motivation” on the governor’s part when he intervened in labor disputes. The Boston Globe and Boston Herald first reported allegations that Local 25 padded expenses and was forcing production companies to hire trucks from a firm owned by Flynn and hire no-show jobs and extra drivers. [Hollywood Rep. 3/27/01]