Wednesday October 25, 1995
By JOHN E. MULLIGAN
Journal-Bulletin Washington Bureau
Arthur A. Coia, the Laborers union leader
who publicly flirted Monday with a switch of allegiance in the
battle for the presidency of the AFL-CIO, was back in challenger
John J. Sweeney's camp again yesterday.
In fact, Coia was slated to make the second
nominating speech for Sweeney barely 24 hours after portraying
himself as a gutsy "kingmaker" who was weighing an offer
to throw his support in the historic contest to incumbent AFL-CIO
President Thomas R. Donahue.
It is "a safe assumption" that
Coia will back frontrunner Sweeney today when the delegates elect
a new president of the 13-million member federation of labor unions
at their convention in New York, said Coia spokesman Bert L. Rohrer.
Coia, a Providence native, is president of the Laborers' International
Union of North America.
If Coia supports Sweeney, he will have wound
up where he started at the beginning of the first contested AFL-CIO
election campaign in almost a century, but only after he helped
to fuel speculation about his loyalty to the Sweeney ticket.
As late as Monday, Coia joined other members
of the Sweeney bloc in signing a letter that asked Donahue's camp
to "cease calling into question our loyalty" to Sweeney.
But shortly afterward, Coia said Donahue
representatives sweetened an offer that he was refused earlier:
to take the third-ranking leadership slot in a Donahue administration,
in return for his support.
On Monday, several union leaders confirmed
that the offer had been made to Coia but expressed some doubt
about whether he could personally change the outcome of the election
- in which Sweeney claims 55.3-percent of delegate support.
Sweeney's camp never acknowledged that there
was any softening in their support.
"We were writing the nominating speeches" for Sweeney, including Coia's, on Monday, "so I doubt seriously whether anyone was considering" abandoning the Sweeney ticket, Sweeney campaign spokeswoman Deborah Dion said.
Contents copyright 1982 to 1995 by The Providence Journal Co.