S. Fla. Govt. Workers Abandon Indicted Union Chief

As indicted union boss Walter Browne awaits trial on racketeering charges, the employees of Sunrise, Fla., voted by a 4-1 margin to oust his union as their bargaining representative in mid-Oct.

Browne and his sister, Patricia Devaney, were indicted in Nov., 2001, on 22 counts of racketeering within the Natl. Fed. of Public & Private Employees (a.k.a. Marine Engineers Beneficial Assn., Dist. 1) he headed. In April 2000, the owner of Coleary Transport pled guilty to paying a $2,000 bribe to Browne, and agreed to cooperate in the fed. investigation. Browne is also accused of taking and/or seeking bribes from Hvide Marine (n.k.a. Seabulk Intl.) ($263,000); SeaAmerica Cruise Lines ($50,000), and Intl. Cruises ($12,500). Hvide has pled guilty for his part in the racketeering.

In March of this year, 72% of Sunrise city employees asked for a vote to switch from Browne’s union to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), after months going without a contract while city commissioners voted to increase their own pensions. The vote earlier this month was 259-63 [Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel  10/23/02]