'Tis the Season to Shake Down Workers?

One ILA union don, Edward Aulisi (right), was allegedly caught on tape assuring a gangster that a change at Local 1235's helm wouldn't stem the flow of workers' money being funneled into mob coffers. Credit: Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.)

 Longshore Union Dons Accused of Holiday Extortion, Other Crimes

(Source:  January 2012 National Right to Work Committee Newsletter)

A superseding indictment filed last month by federal prosecutors adds dozens of counts to a January 2011 indictment charging former International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA/AFL-CIO) union bosses and other conspirators with running an extortion operation for decades.

Unionized workers were the principal victims.

According to a press release issued December 15 by the office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the latest indictment includes “61 additional predicate acts of extortion” of ILA-“represented” workers by Albert Cernadas. Mr. Cernardas is the former president of Newark-based ILA Local 1235 and a former executive vice president of the ILA itself.

Nunzio LaGrasso, the vice president of another Newark-based ILA local, is accused of 12 additional predicate acts of extortion of unionized workers.

One especially egregious form of extortion in which Mr. Cernadas, Mr. LaGrasso, and other ILA kingpins allegedly engaged was the collection of “Christmas tribute” money from New Jersey dockworkers after they received year-end bonuses.

This tribute was allegedly funneled into Genovese crime family coffers as well as ILA chieftains’ pockets. Some victims were coerced by their ILA “representatives” into paying “thousands of dollars each year” to Genovese mobsters at Christmastime, charges U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

‘Force, Violence and Fear’ Systematically Used by Union Bosses to Coerce Dockworkers

Specifically, the indictment accuses Mr. Cernadas, Mr. LaGrasso, Genovese operative Stephen Depiro, and others of agreeing to obtain “money belonging to ILA union members, with their consent, which consent was to be induced by wrongful use of actual and threatened force, violence and fear . . . .”

The ILA union boss/Genovese shakedowns of workers described in last year’s indictments are alleged to have been systematic and to have continued for roughly three decades, until early 2011, on the piers of New Jersey and New York.

One of the accused ILA union officers, Edward Aulisi of Flemington, N.J., was caught on tape assuring gangster Michael Coppola that a change at Local 1235’s helm wouldn’t stem the flow of workers’ money being funneled into mob coffers.

Mr. Aulisi, identified by prosecutors as a “Genovese crime family associate,” was previously investigated by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for holding what commission officials charge was a no-show job.

At an October 2010 hearing, commission officials showed photographs of Mr. Aulisi “barbecuing and riding a lawn mower while he was scheduled to work,” according to a New Jersey newspaper account last month. The commission requested that he respond to its charges under oath, but he opted instead to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Tarnished House of Labor Can Only Be Cleaned by Workers Exercising Free Choice

“The ILA’s New York Harbor locals are representative of many other union operations that have remained crooked, decade after decade, despite multiple crackdowns by law enforcement,” noted National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.

“And federal labor laws that force employees to accept unwanted union representation and pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment are the single most important reason why.

“More than 50 years ago, labor law scholar and onetime unpaid union organizer Sylvester Petro cogently explained the source of the Big Labor corruption, theft, extortion, brutality, and human exploitation that had then recently been exposed in televised hearings held by U.S. Sen. John McClellan [D-Ark].

“Speaking in regard to the tarnished house of labor in a 1957 address to business leaders regarding the McClellan Committee revelations, Mr. Petro insisted that the ‘house cleaners will have to be the working men of this country.’

“He continued: ‘The cleansing materials will have to be their own free choice and their right to refuse to join unions or to participate in strikes, picketing, and boycotts.’

“The words of Sylvester Petro, who passed away in 2007, continue to ring true today. It is long past time for Congress to pay heed by repealing all provisions in federal labor law that authorize compulsory union dues and fees.”