For the last two years the International Longshoremen’s Association has been operating under a Justice Department civil racketeering indictment. But whether the change in leadership at New York City headquarters this month suggests the feds will drop its suit remains to be seen. As expected, John Bowers resigned on July 26 as president of the ILA at the union’s quadrennial convention in Hollywood, Fla., having held the job since 1987. Bowers, 84, had been indicating for some time that he would not seek re-election. His close ally, Richard Hughes, Jr., 74, the ILA executive vice president, takes over at the top spot, having run uncontested. Hughes’s replacement is Harold Daggett, assistant general organizer and president of the nearly 2,000-member Local 1804-1 across the river in New Jersey, long under control of the Genovese crime family. Daggett had been acquitted in November 2005 after an emotionally draining waterfront criminal trial that saw, among other things, the discovery of the dead body of missing witness Lawrence Ricci. Hughes had gotten his job in 2005 as a replacement for Albert Cernadas, who retired after pleading guilty in the case.
The game of musical chairs that often accompanies the retirement of a top person may or may not affect the ongoing 83-page civil RICO suit filed in the summer of 2005 in Brooklyn federal court. Bowers and Daggett were among several union officials named in the indictment. The suit seeks to place the 65,000-member ILA under federal oversight in an arrangement similar to that governing the Teamsters since 1989. The case has stalled, as lawyers have debated over such key issues of pretrial depositions and admission of evidence. The defense plans to file a motion on July 31 to dismiss the case. The Justice Department in 1990 had filed a civil RICO suit trying to link Bowers to the mob, producing only several minor consent decrees from New York and New Jersey officials, including Daggett. This may be a case of aiming too high. (Journal of Commerce, 7/13/07; Traffic World, 7/23/07).