Chicago Local Taken Over by Intl.

U.S. Dist. Judge Robert W. Gettleman (N.D. Ill., Clinton) on Mar. 5 allowed the Laborers Intl. Union of N. Amer. (LIUNA) to appoint a temporary trustee over a Chicago Local that “continues to be infiltrated by organized crime.” 


In a blistering report released earlier that week, union hearing officer Peter Vaira said that Local 1001 had paid benefits to 33 people “who were not salaried employees” of the union, while failing to make required pension contributions for ofc. and secretarial staff.  Vaira identified 2 frmr. Local officials, Ernest Kumerow and Bruno Caruso, as “recognized organized crime associates.  Kumerow and Caruso brought to power in the Local a current official, Nicholas Gironda, despite his suspension by city officials for “failure to supervise personnel in a no-show work incident.” 


Kumerow is a son-in-law of the late mobster Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo, while Caruso was removed from the Laborers union because of his reported mob ties.  As Vaira wrote in his report, “Once organized crime has infiltrated a union, it does not disappear upon the removal of a suspect officer.”  Vaira also concluded that the unjion’s auditor, James Capasso, “was not and is not qualified to hold the position” and was trying to get a 2nd pension from the union while already running a city pension funs.


After LIUNA appointed LIUNA vice pres. Steve Hammond trustee of Local 1001, the union’s lawyer, Matthias Lydon, asked Judge Gettleman to block the takeover.  But Gettleman concluded that Lydon had failed to disprove Vaira’s conclusions or demonstrate any improper methods used in the investigation.  Chicago dissident leader Jim McGough said the LIUNA action was “long overdue.  It should have been done long ago.” [Chicago Tribune, 3/5/04: Chicago Sun-Times, 3/4/04]