By Lornet Turnbull
Dispatch Staff Reporter
DECEMBER 10, 1998
The federal government is ordering a new election at a Columbus union local, saying its new vice president's felony conviction 14 years ago makes him ineligible to hold office.
The U.S. Department of Labor will supervise
the Jan. 30 vote at Laborers' International Union of North America
Local 423,which represents more than 1,400 central Ohio construction
workers. This summer, members elected Pat Murphy to the No. 2
position. Murphy also won the local's delegate seat on the district
council, a body of union representatives. That race also will
"This is just another sorry chapter
in the history of this local," said Joe Motil, one of the
candidates for the district council seat. Motil, who lost a bid
last month to unseat E J. Thomas in the 27th District for state
representative, said he has not decided if he'll make another
ran for the union position in January. "I want to continue
to work as a reformer in our union and do what I can," Motil
In 1984, officials say, Murphy was convicted
of second-degree robbery and spent nearly two years in prison
- a claim his opponents tried to make but couldn't substantiate
during the election campaign. The conviction meant Murphy, under
federal law, was ineligible to hold office until 1999
Local 423 officials declined comment yesterday.
Murphy who has since vacated the position, could not be reached.
His problems are the latest for Local 423 and add to the troubled
history of the 450,000-member international union which has been
under government scrutiny since 1995, after a Justice Department
probe uncovered corruption and racketeering. An independent hearing
officer was appointed to help settle internal disputes - ranging
from election matters to charges of wrong doing.
"It's unfortunate that we've been under
supervision of trusteeships for it the last 20 years and now something
like this has occurred," Motil said,
Over the years, Local 423 has faced a variety
of problems, which caused it to be placed under trusteeship of
the international union. During trustee ships, the local officers
were replaced temporarily. Concern about Murphy's eligibility
for office initially was raised by Darryl Smoot, who opposed Murphy
for the district council seat. He had filed a complaint with the
hearing officer, saying Murphy was a felon.
The hearing officer, Peter F. Vaira, an attorney based in Philadelphia, said his office was unable to substantiate the claims, and the protest was later withdrawn. "We went through all the grounds," he said. "This information never got in front of us. It didn't jump out at us." Vaira said another protest was filed with his office, which was investigated by the Labor Department Its labor management division has authority to investigate and rule on union elections and other union matters. , Jack Graczyk, supervisor investigator at the Cleveland offices of the Labor Department; said he could not discuss details of the investigation. He did confirm the department has ordered a new election to decide the vice president's race.