Federal Labor Board
Charges Union Sought To Keep Election Challenger From Job
By Dan Barry
September 1, 1986
The National Labor Relations
Board has charged that the Hartford-area Laborers union local
colluded with a construction firm to prevent a man challenging
the union's hierarchy in an election from finding work.
In a formal complaint the NLRB
also accused Laborers Local 230 of discriminating against a former
East Hartford man because he was the son of another man running
against the local's entrenched leadership, headed by business
manager, Dominick Lopreato.
The charges against Local 230
were filed by Gary Wall, 40, an 18-year laborer who lost resoundingly
in a bid this June to oust Lopreato as business manager, and by
William Cooksey Jr., 25, the son of William Cooksey Sr., who ran
and lost against the union's vice president, John Pezzenti.
Wall's charges, filed in May,
also accused Hartford-based Development Consultants Inc., contractor
for Hartford's twin-towered Northeast Plaza skyscraper project,
of colluding with Lopreato and Pezzenti to have him laid off from
In an eight-page complaint
issued Aug. 29 the NLRB's Hartford office charged Local 230 with
unfair labor practices in Wall's and Cooksey's cases, saying the
local retaliated against the two men because they "criticized,
opposed the re-election of, and campaigned against" its officers.
The federal board also accused
Local 230 of "restraining and coercing" employees trying
to exercise rights allowed under labor laws. It charged the contractor
with discriminating against employees and encouraging membership
in a particular union.
Nov. 17 hearing set
Development Consultants and
Local 230's leadership, including Lopreato, Pezzenti and President
Charles LeConche, will have a chance to respond to the charges
at a Nov. 17 hearing before an NLRB administrative judge.
If the charges are upheld,
Wall and Cooksey may be reinstated and paid lost wages. Also,
copies of the decision may be hung in the union hall and at the
John H. Sauter, deputy officer
in charge of the NLRB's Hartford office, said today that the board
was investigating other charges against Local 230.
Northeast Plaza project manager
Joseph Anderson and other Development Consultants officials were
in a meeting and unavailable for comment this morning, a secretary
Asked for comment today, Lopreato
said in a brief telephone conversation that he was leaving town
for a couple of weeks for a convention. Asked Whether other union
officials were available, he said, "Nobody's here" and
The NLRB charges are the latest
dovelopment in a dispute with Local 230. wall has charged that
Lopreato and Pezzenti have intimidated laborers, continued a
crude extortion practice and worked with the union's international
vice president, Arthur E. Coia, whom federal investigators have
linked to organized crime, to stymie any opposition.
But Lopreato has dismissed
Wall's charges as the rantings of a malcontent. He has pointed
to his overwhelming victory in the local's June elections, in
which he and Pezzenti beat Wall and Cooksey by a 511-64 vote,
as an indication of his support within the union.
Claims further pressure
In February, Wall has said, he was among
about a dozen laborers laid off from the Northeast Plaza project,
being built next to the Old State House. A week later everyone
except Wall was rehired, he said.
"I went down to the job site a couple
of times to get hired back, but then I figured it was fruitless,"
Wall, a Wethersfield resident, said.
The younger Cooksey, who worked briefly
at the Northeast Plaza project, corroborated Wall's story in an
He said that while working on the project's
ground floor, he overheard Development Consultants general superintendent
Richard Olsen ask a foreman on a two-way radio whether any of
the laborers laid off from one tower could come to work on the
When a foreman answered that only Wall was
left, Olsen made no reply and the radio shut off; then the foreman
and Cooksey "looked at each other and laughed, Cooksey wrote
adding, "It was common talk among the laborers on the project
that there was no way Gary Wall was going to be allowed to return
back to work because of his campaigning against Lopreato in the
Based in part on Cookesy and Wall's testimony,
the NLRB charged that Development Consultants "failed and
refused and has continued to fail and refuse to hire Wall for
employment at the Northeast Plaza job site."
Wall's lawsuit pending
Wall is suing Lopreato and Pezzenti, alleging
they told laborers in the months before the election that he
had orchestrated a clubbing attack on Pezzenti in front of his
Newington home last December.
In his suit Wall also alleges that Lopreato
promised at a restaurant to "stab and kill" Wall's family.
He also has appealed the June election to
the Laborers International union but so far has received no response.
The younger Cooksey said Tuesday he was laid
off from the Northeast Plaza job by a subcontractor the day before
his father announced he was challenging Pezzenti in an upcoming
election. He said he was the only one laid off.
After that, Cooksey said, he was blackballed.
Although a seven-year union member, he said he repeatedly was
passed over for jobs at the local's hiring hall.
The NLRB charges Local 230 leaders with by
passing Cooksey on two jobs, including state reconstruction of
the Putnam Bridge in Glastonbury.
Cooksey said that in May the local's president,
LeConche, announced he needed three laborers with cars to go to
the bridge site. Cooksey said he and two other men stood up. The
fourth and last man in the hall had no car, he said.
Cooksey said in his affidavit that LeConche
told him he couldn't give him the job. When he reiterated that
he was available, Cooksey said, "LeConche ignored me and
proceeded to call back Pezzenti, telling him that he only had
two men with cars for work."
Cooksey said Tuesday that he has been out
of work for seven months, has spent his savings, has lost his
apartment in East Hartford, and his fiancee is expecting a baby.
He said he attributes his unemployment to
the politics in Local 230.
"Any other year I could say there's
a reason for it," Cooksey said, "but this is the biggest
year for construction. Every body and his brother is working."
"Is it killing me? Of course it is," Cooksey added. "I need the hours."