The Buffalo News



April 23, 1996

The group of insurgents that took control of the Laborers Local 210 hall last month relinquished it on Monday after losing a legal battle in federal court.

The insurgents' group allowed a supervisor appointed by the Laborers International Union of America to take over operations of the Franklin Street union hall about four hours after U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara ordered them to do so. "The supervisor went in about 2 o'clock and, so far, everything has been peaceful and cooperative," said John Curran, an attorney for the international.

But the war is not over, according to a spokesman for the insurgents. "Evidently, we're going to give up the union hall, but we'll be back in court again," said Bruce Curvin, one of the laborers who had been running the local since March 31. "We want the members to have a say in what happens with our union."

Arcara ordered the insurgents group to give up control of Local 210 and to allow a supervisor appointed by the international to take over by Wednesday.

Arcara's ruling said the insurgents have run the local illegally. If they refused to move from the union hall, they would be in direct violation of a court order and susceptible to contempt proceedings -- which can include fines or criminal charges -- Arcara said.

Since the judge found that the insurgents' group had no legal authority to run the local, the international moved in Monday afternoon, rather than waiting for the Wednesday deadline, Curran said.

He said John S. Tomasello, leader of the insurgents, was "cooperative, and even showed our people where things were in the office."

Arcara's temporary restraining order is the latest blow in a bitter battle over claims that Local 210 has been dominated for decades by Buffalo organized crime figures.

"We're very gratified by the judge's decision. We were pretty sure this is what he would do," Curran said. "I think the insurgents will now move aside, but if they refuse, we will take them to court on contempt proceedings.

"We're going to run this union, just as the contract says." Curvin, a supporter and close friend, said he thinks Tomasello and other insurgents will continue to argue in court but will not physically resist Arcara's order.

Curvin said many members of the local are upset because the international has given them little information about how the takeover will be done. He also charged that the international has hired former FBI agents -- including Philip D. Smith, a former Buffalo FBI office chief, to intimidate Local 210 members.

"It's like we're fighting Big Brother," Curvin said.

Asked about the mob allegations, Curvin said Local 210's most recent business manager, Peter Capitano, and secretary- treasurer, Everett Caci, have cleaned up the local. Both were required to resign under an agreement reached with the international in February.

"Years ago, things might have been different, but over the past few years, Peter Caps and Everett have done more than anybody to make this a professional local, and to help the workers get decent pay and benefits," Curvin said.

But another Local 210 member -- who spoke on the condition that his name would not be used -- rejoiced at Arcara's decision.

"Many people like myself are afraid to speak up and have our names used, but we're glad that they are cleaning up 210. It's long overdue," the member said.

Curran added that Gabe Rosetti, business manager of Laborers Local 433 in Syracuse, is acting as supervisor of Local 210's day-to-day operations.

George Kannar, a law professor and a former federal prosecutor, was named as supervisor last month, and Rosetti is to serve as his deputy, but Kannar has not taken office yet, Curran said.


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