March 5, 1999


For your information, enclosed is a copy of a decision by a hearing officer into protests I made following a fraud-filled election held on September 30, 1998 for local union officers of Local Union 190, Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), Albany, NY.

This decision is disturbing for many reasons. The so-called "Independent" Hearing Officer, Peter F. Vaira is,in reality, not so "independent," but rather has a long history of close association with LIUNA International officials. It is not so surprising then that while Vaira was forced by overwhelming and compelling facts to admit that many of my allegations into the fraudulent conduct of this election by incumbent Local 190 officers and officials were true, he nonetheless conveniently ruled the election results should stand. This is, of course, absurd! Even more disturbing and bizarre is that Vaira, using faulty and illogical reasonings to outright reject other charges I filed, created potentially serious problems for future union elections. Many of these charges concerned outright violations of the LIUNA Constitution. Furthermore, Vaira steadfastly refuses to provide me a transcript of a hearing conducted on October 15, 1998 which would contradict many of the conclusions he reached in his decision.

Vaira drove a knife deep into the very heart of fair union elections when he ruled that it is proper and correct that watchers and observers be kept far away of the area where election ballots are counted and play no role in discussions about whether certain questionable ballots be counted or be declared void. Too, Vaira found no problem that LIUNA Constitution provisions regarding the safeguarding and availability of counted ballots were seriously violated. Vaira's decision is a slap in the face of all union members and must be overturned.

Vaira's rulings will have far-reaching and negative effects on any dues-paying union member, in any union, who challenges incumbent officers. His rulings set precedence allowing incumbent union officials wide lattitude in using improper, even illegal, tactics to retain power and suppress challengers. As an "independent" hearing officer, Vaira should be concerned with protecting and preserving fairness in union elections. but it appears he has, in fact, done the direct opposite.

I have written my concerns regarding this ridiculous ruling to United States Attorney Janet Reno. members of Congress and the congressional committee on Education and Work Force. I urge you and all working people interested in creating a fairer union election process and preserving your rights to do likewise.

If you have any questions regarding this decision, or wish additional information, please feel free to contact me.

Very truly yours,

Carmen Francella Jr.
6 Laurel Lane
Schenectady, NY 12304

(518) 346-9022

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