Engineering News-Record

Coia Resigns As Laborers' Chief

By Sherie Winston
12/13/99 issue

Long-time union official Terence M. O'Sullivan will take the helm of the laborers' union Jan. 1, following the retirement of General President Arthur A. Coia.

Coia says he will retire Dec. 31, ending weeks of industry speculation about his departure. The union's general executive board elected O'Sullivan, a top Coia aide, to serve the remainder of the presidential term that runs through 2001.

O'Sullivan, 44, began his career in 1974 while a college student and member of Local 456, working as a construction laborer on the Washington, D.C., subway system. He later became a member of Local 1353 in Charleston, W.Va., and in 1989 worked as the administrator of the West Virginia laborers' training fund. In 1993, he moved to Washington, D.C., and became the assistant director of the union's construction department. Most recently, he was mid-Atlantic regional manager and assistant to the general president. O'Sullivan, whose father once served as the union's secretary-treasurer, was elected an international vice president in February.

"I look forward to building on the record of achievement this union has attained under Coia's administration," says O'Sullivan. Although he still is crafting his own leadership goals, O'Sullivan says the union will continue to organize and expand market share, particularly in construction.

Coia, whose father also served as a secretary-treasurer, was appointed president in March 1993. He will become general president emeritus, but will have no direct involvement with the union. Under his leadership, the union has greatly expanded membership, improved training programs and signed foreign unions as affiliates.

Much of Coia's achievements have been overshadowed by a government probe into allegations that the union and top officials had ties to organized crime. In February 1995, the union began an internal reform program under an agreement with the Justice Dept. Disciplinary charges were filed against Coia, but an independent hearing officer cleared him of having any ties to organized crime. Coia says he believes history will judge the internal reform program "as my greatest contribution."

Union officials say Coia's retirement is not connected to any Justice Dept. deal. The reform agreement with the department expires Jan. 31 and preliminary talks already are under way.

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