Strike feared if U.S. takes over ILA
There's growing worry in the shipping industry that a dock strike could be the end result of a racketeering complaint by the U.S. Department of Justice against the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA).
The government urged in its lawsuit that U.S. officials supervise operations of the longshoremen's union. If that occurred, several shipping, port and terminal sources told Shippers' NewsWire the union's last resort might be to strike, which could effectively shut down a number of East Coast ports. The sources asked for anonymity because they didn't 'want to be branded as alarmists,' as one said. 'This news is only a day old, but it is of genuine concern.'
Roslynn R. Mauskopf, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, brought the government's complaint against the ILA under the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The complaint was filed Wednesday in the Eastern District federal court.
'The case announced today is the first prosecution brought against the ILA under the RICO statute and seeks court-ordered relief to impose trusteeships responsible for reforming and overseeing the union and its benefit plans, and to bar current union officials and organized crime members from the waterfront and from managing or influencing the operations of the union and its benefit funds,' the Department of Justice said in a statement.
The statement added in a footnote that 'the charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed not liable unless and until proven otherwise.'
The complaint alleges that the Gambino organized crime family, controlling Brooklyn and Staten Island, and the Genovese crime family, controlling Manhattan, New Jersey and Miami, are closely linked to current ILA officials: John Bowers, president; Robert E. Gleason, secretary-treasurer, and Albert Cernadas, executive vice president. 'This case seeks to end organized crime's control of the ILA,' the government said.
ILA officials had no immediate comment. Last Friday, after the Justice Department leaked details of the pending case to the media, the union said, 'the government has chosen to perpetuate an outdated stereotype of the ILA focusing on stale allegations of wrongdoing.'