Judge Enjoins Inter-Union Infighting to Protect Trouble Local’s Integrity

U.S. Dist. Judge Robert W. Sweet (S.D.N.Y., Carter) granted a motion May 30 by the Mason Tenders Dist. Council of Greater N.Y. to enjoin two banned Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters’ bosses and the unaffiliated local union they currently head from contacting employees represented by the Mason Tenders or soliciting their membership in Production & Maintenance Employees Union Local 116. The Mason Tenders is a subunit of the Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am.

Sweet found such contact and solicitation would undermine the operation of a 1994 consent decree designed to protect the membership of the Mason Tenders “from contact with labor racketeers.” That consent decree, Sweet said, enjoined Mason Tenders’ members from “knowingly associating with ‘any person prohibited from participating in union affairs.'” Sweet held that the prohibition applied to association with Vincent Sombretto and Edwin Gonzalez, both currently officers in Local 116, who had been previously banned from the IBT

The Mason Tenders signed the decree after LIUNA placed it in trusteeship because of concerns that “criminal elements” controlled the activity of some local unions. Sombretto and Gonzalez were expelled from the IBT in 1994 and permanently enjoined from participating in its affairs. Sweet noted that the two bosses were “banished” from IBT “because of a wide range of misconduct, including embezzlement, other financial misconduct, negotiation of sham collective bargaining agreements and assisting independent unions, including one that was formerly controlled by labor racketeer Jack McCarthy.”  Gonzalez became the treasurer of Local 116 in 1999, and Sombretto has been the local’s president since 1996. Local 116 is not affiliated with MTDC, LIUNA, or IBT.

Sweet granted the injunction to protect the court’s consent decree and because the Mason Tenders established that the activities of Sombretto, Gonzales, and Local 116 threaten irreparable injury to MTDC, by undermining the reforms brought by the consent decree. Lowell Peterson of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, represented the MTDC. Note that Harold M. Ickes is a partner in Meyer Suozzi. Annmarie P. Venuti, Manhasset, N.Y., represented Local 116, Sombretto, and Gonzalez. Andrew W. Schilling, U.S. Atty.’s Office, New York, N.Y., represented the government. [BNA 6/3/02]