By Tracy Boutelle
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, January 7, 1999
-- The Laborers union on Thursday was given another year to rid itself of corruption,
preventing court-appointed officers from taking over and cleaning
To avoid racketeering charges, the Laborers
agreed in February 1995 to weed out alleged mob lieutenants from
its ranks and hold direct elections of its officers. The Justice
Department extended that agreement until Jan. 31, 2000, saying
the union has made strides in its internal reform plan.
"This extension recognizes that additional
time is needed to complete efforts to eliminate corruption from
the union," said U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar.
The Laborers International Union of North
America is one of the nation's largest labor unions, with 700,000
The union held its first contested nationwide
election in 1996 under independent supervision. It placed leadership
councils in Chicago, New York and Buffalo under trusteeship because
of perceived ties to organized crime. Other changes include adopting
an ethics and disciplinary code.
The Justice Department said proof that the
group's disciplinary process is working can be seen in misconduct
charges filed against the current president, Arthur Coia, accused
of associating with mafia members.
Coia has denied that he is under mob influence.
The Laborers voluntary deal was seen as precedent-setting
in 1995. The government has forced supervision on other unions,
including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Hotel
Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press