State and Regional News
Laborers' Union and U.S. Government Join Forces To Impose Historic Consent Decree in Chicago
Milestone Consent Decree With LIUNA and U.S. as Co Plaintiffs Will Be Unprecedented
Collaborative Effort to Eliminate Corruption And Restore Democracy In Chicago
August 12, 1999, Thursday WASHINGTON In an unprecedented legal action, the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) and the U.S. Government today jointly filed a two-year Consent Decree over the Chicago Laborers' District Council (CLDC). The Decree acknowledges the success and substantial progress LIUNA's internal reform efforts have made in eliminating organized crime influence from the Union and the CLDC in particular, and is aimed at restoring full autonomy in the District Council in the shortest time possible. "This Consent Decree adds to our track record of success, builds on our partnership, and brings our Union one step closer to restoring the complete integrity that our members deserve," said LIUNA General President Arthur A. Coia. "We will achieve our goal of making LIUNA the strongest, cleanest, most democratic Union anywhere." The Consent Decree follows the filing on Tuesday, August 10, of a civil RICO action by the United States and LIUNA, which details the efforts of organized crime to assert control over the CLDC. Consistent with the path-breaking, cooperative approach that LIUNA and the United States have taken to fighting organized crime, the Decree incorporates a number of novel features. For the first time:
· * The government has agreed to proceed with an International union as co-plaintiff in a RICO suit aimed at thwarting organized crime control over a local or district council.
· * The Consent Decree adopts the ethical standards and adjudicative procedures of the union as the foundation for a disciplinary process to purge the union of organized crime members and associates.
· * The Consent Decree provides for appointment of union officials -- in this instance LIUNA's Inspector General and GEB Attorney -- to investigate and prosecute cases under Court supervision.
· * The Consent Decree permits the Inspector General and GEB Attorney to share access to vital law enforcement, such as wiretaps and grand jury transcripts, to investigate and prosecute cases.
· * The Consent Decree preserves Union control over the CLDC to minimize intrusion into its affairs, holds down costs, and speeds the return to democracy.The Decree draws upon the expertise and experience of LIUNA's GEB Attorney and Inspector General. In addition, the Decree contemplates that LIUNA and the United States will jointly select and the Court appoint a Monitor, who will have the authority to oversee investigations and prosecutions of charges; an Adjudications Officer, who will be appointed to conduct proceedings resulting from charges; and a Trustee, who will continue to supervise the daily activities of CLDC. The Council's delegates vote 34-11 on August 11, to approve the Consent Decree. "There is no goal more important in our Union than eliminating all traces of improper influences and past corruption and thereby restoring true autonomy and democracy to our hardworking members," said Coia. "The trusteeship in Chicago under the direction of Robert Bloch has been an extraordinary success, accomplishing many of its goals, but important work remains to be done before full autonomy can be restored. The International joining forces with the federal government in this unique, collaborative effort will combine the tools available under our internal reform programs and the special resources of the federal government to successfully accomplish this goal." On February 9, 1998, LIUNA's Independent Hearing Officer Peter Vaira imposed a trusteeship over the Chicago Laborers' District Council. The ruling came as a result of an internal union hearing that took place during the summer and fall of 1997 under LIUNA's innovative reform process. The Chicago District Council, a LIUNA affiliate, is the primary representative for 21 Chicago area local unions representing approximately 19,000 union members. Founded in 1903, LIUNA represents more than 800,000 workers in construction, environmental remediation, maintenance, food service, health care, clerical, and other occupations. The Union also has members in state, local, and municipal government, and postal service. SOURCE Laborers' International Union of North America CONTACT: David Roscow of the Laborers' International Union of North America, 202-942-2385