Massachusetts Boss Wins $534,000 Libel Suit

James R. Fiori, ousted vice-president of Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 170 of central Mass., won a $534,500 tort judgment Sept. 17 in a suit against the local. A fed. jury ruled that Local 170 members improperly forced Fiori from his union post because of his political support of the local’s ex-boss Ernest R. Tusino and IBT presidential candidate James P. Hoffa. The jury ordered the local to pay Fiori in punitive and compensatory damages for his removal and for distributing letters that unfairly libeled his reputation. The local is appealing the decision.

The rift between Fiori and the local dates back to 1991 when Fiori was hurt in an accident and began receiving workers’ compensation. A few days after the accident, the union went on strike, and he joined the picket line. During the strike, he received strike benefits and workers’ compensation. He contends that payment of the strike benefits had been approved by union officials. In 1996, however, with Fiori now vice president, the local brought charges against him, alleging he violated IBT’s constitution when he accepted both strike benefits and workers’ compensation. IBT asked him to repay $26,345 in strike benefits, and removed him as vice president.

Fiori responded by filing a complaint with the Nat’l Labor Relations Bd., and the libel suit, alleging he was being discredited and attacked because of his political views. A NLRB administrative law judge ruled in 1998 that the charges had been manufactured to remove Fiori because of his political support for Hoffa and Tusino, who was removed from office by ex-IBT boss Ron Carey. [Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.) 9/20/01]

DOL Requests Comments on Beck Rules
The Dep’t of Labor’s Office of Fed. Contract Compliance Programs will have a key role in enforcing aspects of an executive order on notice requirements imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1988 decision in CWA v. Beck. The proposed rule, published in the Oct. 1 Fed. Register, says that OFCCP was designated the agency to enforce the requirements of President Bush’ executive order mandating that fed. contractors post notices informing employees of their Beck rights. Beck held that workers who pay agency fees in lieu of dues can’t be forced to contribute to union expenses unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, or the grievances adjustment (e.g., no politics). The rule expands OFCCP’s role  compared with the enforcement scheme contemplated under a similar order issued by President H.W. Bush in 1992, which was rescinded by President Clinton in 1993. [BNA 10/1/01]

The public’s comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before Nov. 30. The notice appeared in Fed. Register Vol. 66, Page 50010. Send comments to Don Todd, Deputy Asst. Sec’y for Labor-Mgmt. Programs,  U.S. Dep’t of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Room N-5605, Washington, DC 20210.