The Washington Times

[Letter to Editor]

February 11, 2000

LIUNA Is Proud Of Arthur A. Coia's Work

Arnold Beichman's Feb. 2 commentary, "And he keeps the Ferraris," is one of the most blatantly anti-union propaganda pieces that has ever appeared in The Washington Times. Given your paper's track record on organized labor and its leadership, that's saying quite a lot.

Of course, most of the statements Mr. Beichman makes are dead wrong. For example, the Boston federal court case he refers to involving Arthur A. Coia was a matter that resulted in no loss or detriment to the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA). While the case was certainly regrettable, the matter in no way detracts from Coia's lifelong commitment and contributions to the cause of working families.

Additionally, Coia chose to retire from LIUNA after 42 years of service on Dec. 31 and was not "forced out by the U.S. government investigators," as Mr. Beichman contends. Moreover, the "emeritus position" is not something wholly created for Coia, as was implied. Not only has LIUNA awarded the title to past retired officials, but it is not uncommon throughout the labor movement to grant the honor to deserving retired officials. The position provides Coia only with the difference between his pension and his salary as general president.

Coia worked tirelessly as a committed, visionary and dynamic leader of the Laborers' Union. His initiatives in organizing, training and education, health and safety, political action and labor-management cooperation have helped LIUNA to become one of the most democratic, influential and diverse unions in North America.

Moreover, General President Emeritus Coia led our union in developing our innovative and successful internal reform programs, which have been credited by the U.S. government as fair, effective and a model for others to follow.

Just recently, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston praised Coia's leadership in this regard saying he has been "supportive of the reform process from the beginning and in specific cases," and has urged that Coia be given credit "for his substantial assistance to the reform process."

Our union remains proud of Coia's years of dedicated service to LIUNA. Without a doubt, the record will show two things: First, that Coia has helped to create a better life for hundreds of thousands of working men and women; and second, that The Washington Times serves regularly as a highly biased mouthpiece of the extreme antiunion movement.

General council

Laborers' International Union of North America

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