Laborers' mob fight extended

Chicago Sun-Times
January 23, 1998


The Laborers' International Union of North America will continue its efforts to expel organized crime members in its ranks under an extended agreement with the Justice Department, the union said Thursday.

The union, which represents more than 20,000 Chicago laborers, has allegedly been dominated by the mob. Under an agreement with federal prosecutors, it is throwing out individuals believed to be involved in organized crime.

Originally, the agreement was to expire in February. It has been extended until Jan. 31, 1999, so the union can continue its government-supervised purge.

``There are major issues under investigation or awaiting hearing that are unlikely to be resolved before late in 1998,'' said union general counsel Michael Bearse.

Unfinished is the international's attempt to place the Chicago District Council--the parent body of laborers' locals here--and Laborers' Local 225 into trusteeship. Officials of the district council and the local deny any connection with organized crime.

``Reform is a continuing part of our organization,'' said Laborers' International President Arthur Coia. Coia himself is under investigation for allegedly having ties to organized crime, which he denies.

Dissident members of the union worry that without government oversight, the union will abandon its struggle against the mob. ``It's inadequate because the dissidents and reformers need the assurance the Department of Justice will be around for the international election by the rank and file in the year 2001,'' said Jim McGough of the Laborers' for Justice and Democracy.

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