The Voice of the Rank & File

Number 26

March 1999

Published by
Laborers for Justice & Democracy
1601 Ocean Avenue, #346
San Francisco, CA 94112

Coia Trial Ends With Fine

What Has Really Changed?

Independent Hearing Officer Peter Vaira has found General President Arthur Coia guilty of a scam that stole $42,000 from the US Government. In a real court he would be facing jail time and immediate removal from his office in LIUNA. But this isn't a real court, this is the corrupt, self serving Pretend Court created by Coia and his friends in the US government to prevent any real cleanup of his mob connected regime.

Coia is supposed to pay a fine of $100,000, while he stays in control of International union that has been connected to organized crime since its birth

According to Vaira, in 1991 Coia bought a special model F40 Ferrari from a Massachusetts dealer, Viking Leasing, for $450,000. Coia made the down payment from the proceeds of two other exotic cars he owned, but he obtained most of the purchase price of $350,000 through a rate of financing normally available only to car dealers. .

Viking Leasing agreed to keep the car on the books in Vikings name, even though Coia was the actual owner of the car. Why did the head of LIUNA get this special (and illegal) deal? Viking had the contract from LIUNA to lease cars to Laborers union officials nationwide.

If a regular working laborer tried something like this he would be looking at a felony charge for not paying $42,000 in Federal taxes. But don't expect Attorney General Janet Reno or the U.S. Justice Department to do anything about Arthur Coia or his crimes. They are the people who set up this pretend reform program in the first place, because Coia is hooked to their boss, President Bill Clinton.

Coia's political connections, gifts of golf clubs and money to Clinton, and fund raisers for the Democratic party have paid off big time for him. LIUNA has become a crooked corporation with a crooked lawyer, Arthur Coia as CEO at the top, benefiting from the members dues money and hard work.

Coia and his cronies often talk about democracy and reform. But they have a funny idea about what "democracy" means. Coia does not want the members to elect there district councils or vote on their contacts, the two changes that would bring some real democracy into the union.

The Justice department claims to be outraged at Peter Vaira's decision. If they are really mad about this decision, here is what they should do:

1. Enforce the consent decree and establish real rules for democracy .
2. Create an Independent review board made of Federal Judges.
3. Give the members of LIUNA the right to elect District Council officials and set their salary's
4. Give the members of LIUNA the right to vote on all union contracts
5. Establish a process where corrupt trustees can be removed by the review board
6. Establish a set of rules and regulations that spells out the consequences for violations

Some History...

1995 the United States Justice Department drafted a complaint against Coia and LIUNA, as controlled by organized crime, and therefore in violation of Federal law. In order to avoid a federal takeover, LIUNA "agreed" to a reform program to "rid the union of Mob control." The reform program was supposed to be monitored by the Justice Department.

Robert Luskin became GEB Attorney and ex FBI honcho W. Douglas Gow was hired as Inspector General. Most of their staff are ex-FBI agents or ex-federal prosecutors. Peter Vaira was hired as Independent hearing officer and Neil Eggelston as the Appellate officer. The United States Justice department gave their stamp of approval and everyone raved about the "impeccable reputations" of these people. The Inspector General set up a 800 number for members to call with complaints against corrupt leaders, promising that there names would be kept secret to prevent reprisals.

The rank and file Laborers through out the United States welcomed the change and were ready to support reform in every aspect of the word. Then the problems started:

Problems In California

A member of San Francisco Local 261 called the Inspector General to file complaint. He was not contacted by an ex- FBI agent but an International Representative Ken Casarez from the LIUNA regional office. When the member showed up at the next local union meeting he was told by the Business Manager in front of the whole union meeting "We know you contacted the Inspector Generals office. We were there when Casarez phoned you." So much for confidentiality.

Local 73 in Stockton CA was put in trusteeship for financial problems. All of the officers were removed. But the Assistant BA of Local 73, David Thomas, the son of Northern California District Council Business Manager, Archie Thomas, was immediately hired at the district council for $ 90,000 a year.

Another of Thomas's son's, Craig Thomas, was removed and banned from LIUNA for discharging a firearm at the training center. Craig Thomas was a convicted violent felon who held an executive board position in Local #304 in Oakland (illegal under federal law) and was also a paid teacher at the Laborers Training Center. Mr. Craig Thomas is still employed today by a union contractor even though he was banned from LIUNA

In Local 291 in Marin County, the Business Manager, Jerry Payne, is the brother of Don Payne, the assistant Business Manager of the District Council. Jerry Payne was removed from office in Local 291 for "suborning forgery of finical documents, neglecting to open hiring halls, intimidating executive Board members and staff and vandalizing union property" Three years later he shows up as Executive Board Member and Business Representative of Local 67 an appointment approved by the Inspector General W. Douglas.

In Local 270 Ray Duran was found guilty of financial misconduct (loosing $180,000) and lying to the investigators to cover his crime; but he has been allowed to remain in office by (depending

Why are thieves, forgers and rapists kept in office by a six million dollar "Reform Movement"?

News From San Jose Local 270

The appointed "Supervisor" of Local 270, Sal Lopez (from the Painters Union) has again threatened rank and file leader Carlos Lujan at the 270 Union meeting. Lopez told Lujan: "I am going to hit you where it hurts in your pocket book. Mark your calendar - this is the day you will start to pay".

For over a year now Lopez has been one of the acting Supervisors of the phony trusteeship imposed by Peter Vaira. Lopez has allowed several "questionable" actions to occur, including the installation of Frank Romero to the executive board of local 270 and the suspension of Jim Homer. Although Mr. Lopez claims to be a real labor leader who served in the trenches with Cesar Chavez and went on hunger strikes to fight for better contracts for the farm workers, he hasn't noticed that the members of 270 don't have the right to vote on the contract or elect district council officials

Can we expect Sal Lopez to go on a hunger strike for democracy in Local 270 and prove himself as a real champion of working people ?

Support Our Constutional Amendment To Require Membership Vote on All Contracts




Bargaining shall be conducted by a Negotiating Committee appointed by the District Council. The Business Manager of the Council shall be the chairman ex-officio In the composition of the Negotiating Committee the District Council shall give due regard to representation from all the affected Local Unions. Prior to negotiations the Local Unions which shall be affected thereby shall submit to the District council their bargaining proposals. The Business Manager and the Negotiating Committee of the Council, after consultation with all the affected Local Unions, shall cause the preparation of the District Council's agreement proposals. During the course of negotiations the Business Manager shall keep all the affected Local Unions advised of the progress of negotiations.

If agreement is reached by the Committee, it shall require ratification by a secret ballot vote of all the affected members affiliated with the Council. Where a Local Union negotiates an agreement and thereby serves as the District Council's Negotiating Committee, that agreement shall require ratification by a secret ballot vote of all the affected members affiliated with the council like all other agreements negotiated by the Council under this Article.

Ratification of all collective bargaining agreements shall be done by mail ballots, in-person or any combination thereof that guarantees each affected member his right to a secret ballot vote. Changes in the bargaining agreement to be ratified shall be in writing and members shall have no less than 3 working days to review and discuss the bargaining agreement before casting their ballot.

If the delegates to the Council have given the Negotiating committee the authority to call a strike in the event agreement is not reached, the Negotiating Committee shall be authorized to call a strike only after all affected members affiliated with the Council by secret ballot vote have sanctioned the strike authorization of the delegates to the Council. In all other cases, where the Negotiating Committee has not reached an agreement, strike sanctions can only be authorized by secret ballot vote of the all affected members affiliated with the Council.

Voice of the Rank & File is published by the Laborers for Justice and Democracy. We are dedicated to winning justice and true democracy for all members of the Laborers International Union of North America, working within the parameters of the LIUNA constitution. If you have an article or other useful information for the members of our Union please mail it to us at:

Laborers for Justice and Democracy
1601 Ocean Ave #346
San Francisco, CA 94112

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