Labor Day: Death, Destruction and Union Corruption

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - An execution for murder, charges of a "bloody stabbing," an indictment for embezzlement and allegations of racketeering - all mark the 117th anniversary of organized labor's day of rest and celebration: Labor Day.

Organized labor groups use Labor Day to laud the work and productivity of their members. But according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Labor Day actually serves as a "painful reminder of the vicious tactics that union officials employ against workers who bravely refuse to toe the union line."

NRTW tracks union corruption and seeks to represent victims of alleged abuse by union bosses.

Such is the case of John Masillo and Craig Sickler, two US Air mechanics who sought proof from their union bosses that their union dues weren't being illegally spend on political contributions. The answers came in the form of "lies and delays," according to NRTW.

"Finally, in April 1999, union officials delivered on their brass-knuckles threat to get US Air to fire the employees for refusing to pay union dues spent for politics," a NRTW report reads.

The NRTW Legal Defense Foundation has taken Masillo and Sickler's case to federal court seeking reinstatement to their jobs, lost back pay and punitive damages.

The foundation is also filing suit against the Teamsters Union for the stabbing of UPS deliveryman Rod Carter. Prior to his UPS career, Carter was a University of Miami linebacker and a former tenth-round draft pick for the Dallas Cowboys.

Carter opted to work to support his family during the August 1997strike against UPS which lasted 15 days. But after he was interviewed on television about his decision to cross the picket line, Carter received a "threatening phone call which phone records show was placed from the home of Anthony Cannestro, Sr., president of (Teamsters) Local 769," according to NRTW.

The next day, Carter was pulled from his delivery truck, punched, kicked and stabbed with an ice pick six times, allegedly by assailants acting on behalf of Teamsters officials.

"Rod Carter chose to exercise his Right to Work. For that, he became a target for a union campaign of intimidation and brutal violence," said Stefan Gleason, NRTW vice president.

A 1973 Supreme Court decision exempts vandalism, assault and even murder by union officials, according to a policy analysis conducted for the Cato Institute by National Institute for Labor Relations Research's program director David Kendrick.

"As long as the violence is aimed at obtaining property for which the union can assert a 'lawful claim' (like wages and benefit increases) the violence is deemed to be in furtherance of 'legitimate union objectives," Kendrick stated. "By the Court's peculiar logic, such violence does not count as extortion."

Violence and destruction not only mark the methods used to control dissenting union members, but is also the preferred tool used by some wanting to rise up the union ladder.

Early last Thursday morning, former St. Louis union member David Leisure was pronounced dead at 3:17 a.m. But Leisure's death was one of his own making, after his conviction in a series of car bombings in 1980, one which left rival union boss Jim Michaels, Sr. blown to pieces across a Missouri highway.

Leisure was convicted and sentenced to death by injection - the first legal execution of a mob figure since 1944, according to the National Legal and Policy Center a Virginia-based organization which tracks union corruption.

Leisure reportedly killed Michaels so that his family could rise to power in the Laborers Union International of North America (LIUNA).

In Chicago, LIUNA is embroiled in a racketeering indictment involving ex-U.S. Marshall Peter Wilkes and LIUNA's John Serpico, according to NLPC.

Serpico was indicted in August for allegedly providing cash from an illegal loan to Wilkes' start-up company, Protective Service Systems, Inc.

As the nation slows its work on Labor Day, NRTW contends that Americans should not "forget about the workers who are systematically deprived of the fruits of their labor by the very organizations that claim to represent them."