It’s getting to be a regular occurrence over the past several months: A very unpleasant guy from Laborers Local 91, the scourge of the Niagara Falls, N.Y. area, pleads guilty. The latest to join the club is Patrick McKeown, a local board member. McKeown, 58, recently admitted his role in two incidents: 1) the destruction of landfill liner roughly the size of four football fields that had been installed by a non-union company at the Browning Ferris Industries landfill in the Town of Niagara; and 2) the destruction of construction equipment used by a non-union company at the Ordnance Works in Lewiston, N.Y.
Local 91 long had used assaults, threats and property destruction to intimidate non-union workers and their contractors from building in Niagara County. Fourteen of its leaders and members were indicted after a lengthy investigation by federal, state and local authorities. Five already have been convicted, including McKeown’s younger brother, James, 49, who admitted trying to destroy a food service truck and injure its driver while picketing a Niagara Falls hotel in 1998. Four more defendants are set to go on trial this January. A former union leader, Michael “Butch” Quarcini, died in 2003. And though nothing yet has been proven, some people suspect that former Niagara Falls Mayor James Gaile, and other top local officials, knew about such incidents but looked the other way. (Buffalo News, 9/20).