Union Ordered To Hold Revote
Albany -- National body cites irregularities, throws out results from Laborers Local 190 election
By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
July 14, 2004
The results of a controversial leadership vote at one of the Capital Region's largest labor unions were thrown out, and a revote was ordered by the union's national office Tuesday amid claims of ballot abuse.
Laborers Local 190 must hold another election for its officers because irregularities in a May 21 vote made it impossible to determine whether improper ballots were cast, according to a ruling by Joseph Guerrieri, a special elections officer for the Laborers' International Union of North America.
The order that another election be held before Sept. 30 was hailed by the head of an insurgent slate that narrowly lost to longtime Business Manager Anthony Fresina and his allies in a campaign characterized by claims of financial irregularities on both sides.
"They ran on cheats and lies," said Ramsis Berghela, who was defeated for re-election by 19 votes and immediately claimed Fresina swelled the ranks of his supporters by allowing ineligible voters. "And it came around to bite them on the rear end. There will be no more illegal votes."
Local 190 has about 1,300 members and is one of the largest labor unions in the area. Former Business Manager Sam Fresina resigned eight years ago amid allegations that a political action committee board he led paid $221,000 to reputed mob associate Salvatore Lanza.
An internal investigation against Fresina was launched in 1997 when he and the rest of the Laborers' state political action committee board were accused of buying out Lanza's contract after he was fired from his New York City local for associating with members of the Genovese crime family.
Since then, Fresina's son, Anthony, has been business manager. He now faces another election for his $95,492-a-year post as business manager. Fresina loyalists had won seven of 10 other union leadership posts at the May election.
Guerrieri agreed with claims by Berghela and his supporters that the vote was flawed because members didn't sign in to vote or record union identification numbers, which is required under the international union's constitution.
Fresina's allies said sign-ins were unnecessary because the local is "a small local where everyone knows each other," according to Guerrieri's decision.
But without sign-in sheets, "It effectively precludes subsequent verification that only eligible voters cast ballots," Guerrieri wrote. "The election's outcome may have been affected by the failure to require signatures."
Calls to Fresina and union attorney Eugene Devine on Tuesday were not returned.
"We want to have another election as soon as possible," said Berghela. "As I've said from day one, the men will speak. As for our chances now, I feel very good about it."