Hotline Transcript

December 9, 1997

Thank you for calling Local 225's "Union Issues Telephone Hotline." In less than a week, the hearings begin in the fight to take control of the Local from its membership and elected officials. If the Local loses, an outsider would take over.

Does it make any difference who's in charge of the day-to-day administration of your Local?

If you've been a Local 225 member for a while, you know there's a difference in the management style of each leadership team: You've seen the difference in the manner in which job sites are monitored and how leadership fights for the safety of union members on those sites. You've noticed the difference in the manner ˇ and the speed ˇ with which your work site grievances were addressed. You know how different leaders respond to work sites that have hired non-union laborers.

Many of you have commented on the difference in the contracts that were negotiated by each leadership team ˇ and the difference those negotiations made in your take-home pay and benefits.

You elected the people who now negotiate your contracts. Would you prefer someone you don't know to negotiate your next one?

Is it important to you to have a voice in the affairs of your Local? Did you realize you could lose your voice, if a trustee takes control of this Local?

What conditions do you feel would justify trusteeship? And are those conditions present at Local 225?

In previous hotlines, we've looked at this internal investigation ˇ an investigation that reportedly has cost dues-paying Laborers' Union members about five million dollars. And, we looked at the findings of that multi-million dollar investigation, in the case of Local 225.

Investigators say the Local should be taken over by a trustee for three reasons: They say a trustee would restore democratic practices at the Local, correct financial malpractice and correct corruption.

A trustee needs to restore democratic practices at Local 225, they say, because more than two years ago then-Executive Board vice president John Galioto shouted at then-Executive Board member Mary Williams during a union meeting. Another reason, they say, is because the Board subjected Williams to a literacy test. As many of you know, all Executive Board members are required by the International to be able to read documents, so they can make sound decisions for the Local. The Board has what is called a fiduciary responsibility to adhere to that mandate.

The Complaint also finds it undemocratic for another member of the Local, in a subsequent incident, to file disciplinary charges against Williams for allegedly violating union rules.

The Complaint says the trustee needs to correct financial malpractice because the current leadership ˇ in their view ˇ has spent too much money on meals with contractors and other employers of Local 225 members.

These expenditures, as we pointed out, were approved by the membership. And, the money spent resulted in much improved relationships between management and the Local ˇ and better contracts for Local 225 members.

By contrast, the investigators did not take issue with the spending of previous Local 225 administrations, such as tens of thousands of dollars spent on circuses, parades and union pins ˇ none of which had any impact on the earnings of our members.

Another reason an outsider should come in, they say, is because the Local approved an expenditure of $1,000. The funds were to reimburse business manager John Galioto for the loss of his briefcase and its contents.

We've previously discussed these two charges in detail. Today, we'll look at the third and final reason investigators contend that Local 225 members and leadership no longer should control the way their dues is spent, or control the Local. That reason, they say, is corruption.

In the two previous counts, investigators at least supplied a reason for making the charge. They offered no justification for the corruption count. They accused Galioto of racketeering. But they provided no reason for making such a charge.

As you know, the Local president, Joe Abate, has been charged by law enforcement authorities with organized gambling. Business manager, John Galioto has not.

Even though the racketeering charges related to Abate's alleged activities occurred outside of his union position, Galioto and the rest of the Executive Board responded appropriately and immediately suspended Abate, pending the outcome of his trial.

The Local president's job is merely to preside over union meetings. The president of any Laborers' Union Local does not have more input or control over the day-to-day operations than any dues-paying member of Local 225.

So, all of the charges, as stated in this Complaint, boil down to this:

Local 225 does not operate democratically because once, more than two years ago, John Galioto shouted at a fellow member, who later was asked to prove she could fulfill her obligations as a board member. Even later, disciplinary charges were filed against her by a union member who is related to Galioto.

According to the Complaint, an outsider must come in to correct financial malpractice because the Local 225 membership approved the use of its dues for dining expenses with contractors and the reimbursement of their business manager's expense for his briefcase and its contents.

And finally, the Complaint asserts that trusteeship is necessary to correct corruption at Local 225 ˇ because its suspended president allegedly engaged in illegal activities away from work.

Are these sound reasons for yanking control of the Local away from its members and leadership? We'd like to know. Please tell us at the sound of the tone ˇ and tell other union members to give us their feeback, at the sound of the tone.

Remember to speak slowly and clearly. And leave your social security, so we can verify the comment is from a Local 225 member.

Take pride in union labor! Stand strong for what's best for Local 225.