A good reason for Dems to keep unions at arm's length
by skeptic06, Fri Apr 28, 2006 at 10:31:02 AM EDT
Happening to be in a library with an hour to kill earlier today, I started flipping through New Republics from 1992.
Pretty tedious generally - until I came across piece concerning the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers Union of New York and Vicinity (NMDU) and its then president, Douglas LaChance.
LaChance, it seems, had had a close business connection with one Peter "Petey Beck" DiPalermo, an enforcer for the Lucchese family.
In 1980, LaChance was convicted of extorsion and sentenced to five years.
In 1991, he was once more elected NMDU president.
(What a trooper!)
It seems that, soon afterwards, LaChance was concerned in negotiations relating to a new printing press in NJ of the New York Times.
At this stage, the Feds got interested, and LaChance was wiretapped and extensively surveilled. In February 1992, various raids took place, including on the New York Daily News and the New York Post.
Various racketeering activities were under investigation, notably the practice of swagging or tapping the bundles - union members would ensure that a paper or magazine would print too many copies of a paper; copies would be stolen, sold at big discounts to newsvendors , would then return the copies that they'd bought legitimately and collect a refund of the full price.
Moreover, a newspaper distributor, Hudson News, was owned by a guy called Robert "Bobby" Cohen, convicted of an illegal payment to LaChance.
And the prez of Hudson's subsidiary, Metropolitan News just happened to be - Carl Levy, LaChance's predecessor as prez of the NMDU!
(Small world, eh...)
The suggestion was that Hudson was being used as a conduit for protection paid by the NYC newspapers to the likes of the Lucchese and Bonnano families, to ensure that the NMDU did not interrupt their distribution.
(Obviously yesterday's paper is only saleable as fish-wrapping.)
According to a November 2004 paper (PDF) of the OIG of the Labor Department,
From October 2003 through September 2004, the OIG's labor racketeering program had 130 open cases involving organized crime groups. In addition, during this time frame, our racketeering investigations resulted in over $36.5 million in monetary accomplishments, including restitutions and forfeitures, plus 260 indictments and 143 convictions.
Now, I'm sure that most union officials have never had any contact, direct or indirect, with organized crime.
But clearly, in the current climate where the GOP is looking for mud to throw at the Dems, a mafia connection would trump a Jefferson or Mollohan any day!
The nature (if any) of current connections between unions and organized crime I have not researched. (And Jefferson and Mollohan have yet to be indicted, of course.) But the fact that there have been such connections in the past would give the Dems a good reason for being cautious about whom they snuggled up to, union-wise.
(In addition to the ongoing AFL-CIO/CtW civil war, that is.)