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