Organised crime and unions

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sherbu-kteer's picture
sherbu-kteer
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May 14 2020 12:18
Organised crime and unions

Hey all. Does anyone know of good texts dealing with the issue of organised crime in unions? I was reading this article by Gregory Butler and it made me think of similar situations elsewhere. Butler brings up the example of the various mob-linked leaderships of the NYC construction unions cutting a deal with city hall that would end up leading to the decline of the unions themselves:

Quote:
The New York City District Council of Carpenters – the largest union in apartment house construction – agreed to a below union scale “renovation agreement” with the Metropolitan New York Drywall Association, brokered by Genovese Crime Family captain Vincent Di Napoli. The less directly mafia controlled Association of Wall Ceiling and Carpentry Industries was also part of the deal.

The situation was complicated by gang rivalries:

Quote:
All the other unions went along except for a Painters local, Drywall Tapers local 1974. Their resistance wasn’t entirely altruistic – Tapers local 1974 was controlled by the Lucchese Family, a smaller rival to the Genoveses – but there were also serious safety issues related to working on stilts that made their members unwilling to accept the concessionary agreement

They went on strike, but their strike was quickly broken when another Genovese Family captain, Louis Moscatiello, Jr, a Bronx insurance agent who’d never worked in construction in his life, set up a scab drywall tapers union, Plasterers local 530. Their members replaced the striking tapers and the strike ended in defeat.

This got me thinking about how workers would be able to resist stuff like this -- it's one thing for militant workers to deal with a union bureaucracy made up of political party apparatchiks, it's another to deal with a union bureaucracy made up of gangsters who'd be willing to use violence against those who undermine them.

Any suggestions for reading on this topic would be greatly appreciated

asn
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May 14 2020 14:33

In the Australian context, the so called unions are part of the state at the top levels - they are not formally part - but informally via a myriad of connections and a web of corruption particularly via their interweaving with the ALP machine eg rigging of union elections and enterprise agreement ballots by the state. and subsidising of the union apparatus by the State and private employers via fake training and other funds exposed by the Liberal's Royal Commission into Union Governance and Corruption. Secret weekly meetings occur between the State Secretaries of all the unions and Govt. Ministers and presumably Private Company bosses where dirty deals are made eg privatisation, etc. See article 'Rorts in the Union Office' in Rebel Worker Vol.36 No.2 (231) Aug. - Sept. 2018 and 'RTBU Elections 2018: Were They Rigged?' in RW Vol.36 No.3 (223) Dec.2018 - Jan. 2019 regarding the ballot rigging and corruption which the State turns a blind eye toward because its part of it! in www.rebelworker.org archive section. The info on the secret meetings came from an excellent high up union official source.
Through this interconnection with the ALP - the union bosses would inter connect with the deep state - ASIO and CIA. Many of the union bosses are sent to the notorious CIA recruiting place - Harvard Trade Union Officials Training Course by Unions NSW. In the old days before the Accord and State ballot rigging and Corporate Unionism- they would probably would need to resort to violence with the assistance of criminal elements against opponents on occasion.. Today with their integration into the state - there is no need - if they look to be losing in ballots - the State officials just rigs it to help them get re-elected or EBA ballots passed. The ALP God Fathers have meetings where they decide who gets the key positions in the so called unions based on info received from an excellent ALP source.
Also there is of course hardly any organised opposition movements and associated workplace papers in most industries - so no serious opposition anyway. Most leftist groups eg major Trot groups these days look to be on the ALP or union hierarchy pay roll anyway. In the harsh conditions of today - outside the job organisation has to assist intensively on the job organisation - even help create it to get any serious opposition and a new breakaway syndicalist union movement going.

R Totale's picture
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May 14 2020 15:01

The most dramatic stuff I've heard of was around the Miners for Democracy and the murder of Jock Yablonski (and his family) in the 1960s/70s, which I only know about from Stayin' Alive by Jefferson Cowie. And that's a not-far-off 500 pages book, so not the quickest of reads, but it's an interesting one.
ETA: There's this from Jacobin about the Teamsters as well.
ETA 2: not read 'em myself, but these two look to have some relevance: Rank-and-File Rebellion: Teamsters for a Democratic Union and Rebel Rank and File: Labor Militancy and Revolt from Below During the Long 1970s.

sherbu-kteer's picture
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May 14 2020 15:42

Cheers ASN -- I have heard about violence in union disputes before, don't know the details exactly but people have told me the Maoists hired goons to murder militants in the NSW BLF when they were doing their clampdown, and I'm sure ALP has resorted to similar things in their past. However I was thinking more along the lines of direct criminal involvement in the unions, eg some of the rumoured involvement of Mick Gatto and assorted bikies as intermediaries between the CFMEU and various developers and labour hire companies. Has Rebel Worker covered anything like this in the past?

Thank you as well R Totale -- I didn't know why I didn't think to look into the Yablonski case, considering I just rewatched Harlan County USA the other week.. I'll check out the Teamster stuff as well, cheers

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Jul 13 2020 16:23

Oh, just learned about something relevant to this topic, but I really don't know much about it. There's a mention in Meltzer's Couldn't Paint Golden Angels:

Quote:
When the Direct Action Movement was first formed, it combined the former Syndicalist Workers Federation, begun by Tom Brown and still active around various cities in the North-East, with the anarcho-syndicalist groups around Black Flag and others which resulted from the tours we ran on behalf of the Spanish Resistance.

Tom Brown, when approaching retirement, had been active on behalf of local residents in Paddington. They formed an action group to protest against the opening up of a Mafia-type brothel and a porn club. As a fluent speaker, who had been an engineering shop steward, he was much in demand. Going home from the night shift one early morning, he was attacked by mobsters and beaten up with iron bars so severely he retired to Newcastle and for the last few years of his life was an invalid.

That's pretty much all I know about that incident, others who know the history of British anarcho-syndicalism better might know more.