LIUNA: The Facts Of Life

Verbal, physical attacks, intimidations still a fact of life in my local

Carmen Francella
Local 190
Albany, New York

Tue, 21 Mar 2000 16:43:04 EST

If it wasn't such a serious subject, I'd probably laugh out loud every time I hear LIUNA kingpins rattle on about how they've reformed all the evil and wrong they themselves created, condoned and encouraged in our international for so long.

But I don't laugh because I know from personal experience that damn little has changed, even less has improved from the standpoint of the member, and a lot has actually gotten worse instead of better.

My name is Carmen Francella, and I've been a crusading activist in LIUNA Local 190 in Albany, NY for a long time. I've endured intimidation efforts to silence me or limit my effectiveness as a critic of local and international leadership for years, but none worse than what goes on today in what LIUNA officials laughingly call a reformed and enlightened time in our international.

For years Local 190 leaders and their cronies did everything they could to ridicue and harass me every time I took the microphone at local meetings to speak out on behalf of fellow brothers and sisters and question the leadership abilities and financial mismanagement of the officers. They failed to discourage me and only served to increase my resolve to continue to question their shortcomings.

Tensions increased greatly last year when I ran for Business Agent of Local 190 and headed a slate of insurgent members opposing the entrenched leadership. Local leadership encouraged increased heavy verbal attacks against me whenever I was at the microphone and there was plenty of in-your-face verbal asaults and more that a little pushing and shoving of me and my supporters at every meeting, none of which was stopped by the leadership.

At one particularly violent verbal confrontation, a supporter of the leadership stepped to the microphone and threated not only me, but my wife. "We know where your wife works, and what time she drives home!" he shouted out.

Astounded by this blantant criminal threat, I complained immediately to the local leadership, which did nothing, and notified local police, the FBI and LIUNA officials in Washington of the threat to my wife.

Nothing ever was done about that serious incident by any of them. Just like nothing has ever been done by anyone at LIUNA about the many complaints, several formal and in writing, that I have filed allegeding wronddoings and mismanagement.

Local 190 is a bad local in a bad International, but to hear Mr. Luskin, Mr. Gow, Mr. Vaira, Mr. Eggleston and others tell it, everything is now reformed for the better. Truth is, not much has changed at all.

At my Local 190 meeting in February, for instance, it was just like old times, only worse. When I went to the microphone to question Local 190 officials, I was still subjected to a barrage of verbal abuse from them and their supporters. And suddenly I was hit and tackled hard from behind by one of their supporters, being nearly knocked to the ground.

I was angry and restrained by my friends, but the leadership just laughed it off as an accidental bump. Later, when I again tried to ask a question of the local leaders, I was told bluntly "I'm tired of you and your f--king questions!" and was not allowed to continue.

So much for a changed, reformed and enlightened atmosphere in LIUNA today.

I guess I should not be suprised that nothing has really changed. My own personal experiences are not much different that those of my fellow activists who were assaulted in Connecticut and whose case has dragged on for so long without a resolution.

But if LIUNA leaders think that threats and assaults will intimidate me or cause me to stop speaking out against the leadership and for my fellow brothers and sisters, they've got another think coming.

I will never stop being an activist dedicated to cleaning up my local and my international, and I will never stop speaking out on behalf of other brothers and sisters in times of need.

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