By Ken Krayeske and Jarrett Murphy
To say that the 750,000-member Laborers Inter-national
Union of North America had a good reputation would be--hmmm, how
should we put it?--way off. Congress has investigated the union,
the Department of Justice has ordered it to clean house or face
a government takeover, an internal probe just fined the union's
leader $100,000 for ethics lapses and there's a racketeering suit
by former members of the Connecticut Laborers chapter, Local 230,
underway in federal court in Bridgeport. One of the plaintiffs
in that suit, former Local 230 vice president Steve Manos, says
he was even threatened with physical violence by business manager
Charles LeConche because Manos questioned LeConche's finances.
Mob ties to Laborers' locals in other states are a matter of record.
Still, when the Connecticut Laborers District
Council met in late March for an awards ceremony, Gov. John Rowland
showed up as a special guest in what people who attended say was
a regular buddy-buddy back-slap fest.
Manos says he has called the governor's office
to tell them about the Laborers' troubles. But according to Rowland
spokesperson Dean Pagani, the governor was "probably not
even aware of it."
The LIUNA gave almost $50,000 to the 1998
gubernatorial campaigns, but that expenditure is not out of line
for the union, whose leaders are top Democratic donors. National
union president Arthur Coia and President Clinton have swapped
golf clubs, according to the National Review, and Coia has given
the Dems $1.2 million over the past two years. Perhaps that cozy
relationship is why the Department of Justice went soft on the
national organization, and might be why Johnny Gov feels so comfortable
shootin' the stink with the boys at the District Council.