By NORA LOCKWOOD TOOHER
Journal-Bulletin Staff Writer
Saturday February 13, 1993
Arthur A. Coia has been elected general president
of the 600,000-member Laborers' International Union of North America.
Coia, whose father preceded him as a top Laborers' official, had been the union's general secretary since 1989.
He succeeds Angelo Fosco, who died Thursday, during the union's annual winter meeting in Miami.
While serving as the union's second-ranking officer, Coia focused on: health and safety in the work place, training and labor-management cooperation.
The Laborers' union is one of Rhode Island's and one of the nation's largest and most controversial unions.
Coia has been tied to Joseph Mollicone Jr.,
whose alleged embezzlement of Heritage Loan & Investment Co.
has been blamed for touching off the Rhode Island credit union
Investigators found a mysterious Heritage passbook in the bank's vault that beared the name "Arthur Coia," among others. The non-interest account, allegedly emptied by Mollicone, appears to have once contained more than $400,000.
The account was established by the North American Laborers' Defense League. The Laborers' union denied either it or Coia had anything to do with the money.
In 1981, Coia and his father, Arthur E. Coia,
were charged and acquitted in a federal racketeering case. New
England organized crime head Raymond Patriarca was also a defendant.
In union business, Coia has pushed for greater
cooperation between labor and management.
"The next five years will tell the story for the labor movement in this country," he said. "If it is to prosper, the labor movement must forge a new alliance with management." Coia also worked to expand the union into new areas. For example, under his and Fosco's leadership, tens of thousands of laborers have been trained in asbestos abetment, lead abatement and hazardous waste removal to secure new job opportunities.
Coia joined the Laborers' Local 271 in Providence
as a teenager, working his way through Providence College and
Boston University Law School. After graduating, he developed a
private law practice in Rhode Island.
He succeeded his father, Arthur E. Coia, as the union's general secretary-treasurer. Before that he served as business manager of the Rhode Island Laborers' District Council, and as manager of the union's New England and Eastern Canada regions.
The region's membership now exceeds 50,000,
boosted by Coia's efforts to expand the membership base to include
state and municipal workers, librarians and nurses.
Members work in the construction, manufacturing, health-care, service, government and hazardous waste industries in the United States and Canada.
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