New York Union Boss Sentenced for Role with “Goon Squads”

According to a Newsline article, a U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York judge, on December 20, “sentenced former Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 91 president Mark Congi to 15 years in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy.

“In August 2006, Congi and three other former Local 91 officials abruptly entered guilty pleas in the middle of their trial on racketeering and extortion charges. The trial followed a lengthy federal investigation of the 700-member union. A total of 20 Local 91 officers and members have been prosecuted as a result of the investigation. They were accused of using verbal and physical intimidation and property destruction to force contractors and owners to employ the union’s members.

“According to a Dec. 21 article in the Tonawanda News, Congi headed a ‘Goon Squad’ of Local 91 members who were ‘prepared to engage in acts of violence and property destruction against non-union contractors and even members of other unions.’

“The New York Times also reported last August that four Local 91 members — acting on the order of Congi — threw two bricks taped with explosives through the window of an apartment housing four non-union craftworkers. One craftworker suffered permanent hearing loss as a result of the attack.”

While this prosecution is welcome news, there is work left to be done in this area. Under a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, union officials are exempt from federal prosecution for “acts of violence used to achieve legitimate union objectives.”

Several members of Congress have tried over the years to correct this outrage with amendments to the Hobbs Act, but, Big Labor operatives in Washington have kept the special privilege alive and well.