HOTEL WORKERS' UNION, U.S. REACH OVERSIGHT ACCORD
Former Governor Thompson On Board
(Chicago Tribune, Aug. 29, 1995)
[CN -- This story provides background for the one to follow.]
Nearly 20 years after the government began investigating the
Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union, a deal between
the government and union will give the hotel workers a chance to
show how clean they are.
Union and government officials expect to sign a consent decree
next week in federal court in Newark, N.J., that will allow a
federal monitor to oversee union leaders' activities. A three
person review board will replace the monitor after 18 months.
"This is anything but a takeover," insisted Robert Rotatori, the
Cleveland attorney who handled the union's negotiations with the
government, which, he said, have been under way for two years.
In a letter sent Monday to the rank and file, union leaders
emphasized that they will remain in power. The deal does not cite
wrongdoing by current leaders, they told reporters.
Under the agreement, the monitor will be able to make
recommendations on cleaning up the union's ranks to the heads of
the 330,000-member organization, Rotatori said.
The review board, which has already been chosen by the union and
government, will have the power to oust union leaders, he added.
The board's members will be ex-Gov. James R. Thompson; Kurt
Muellenberg, a former head of the Justice Department's organized
crime and racketeering division; and Roman Catholic Archbishop
James Kelleher of Kansas City.
The union, under Edward T. Hanley, has heavily supported
politicians over the years, including Thompson. However, union
officials said that the former Illinois governor had received
only about $50,000 in contributions from the union.
Herman Benson, head of the Association for Union Democracy, an
independent union watchdog group in Brooklyn, N.Y., said the
agreement was "long overdue."
The chance of the union ridding itself of mob ties "without
government intervention is remote," he added.
Rather than viewing the deal as a burden, Rotatori described it
as a "final step" on the union's part to clear years of
"allegations and perceptions" about corruption.
To be sure, the union, which has been led since 1973 by Hanley,
68, a one-time bartender from Chicago's West Side who rose up in
union ranks as a local leader in Chicago, has been repeatedly
cited by federal investigators as one of the nation's more
corrupt labor organizations.
A 1984 report by the U.S. Senate Permanent Committee on
Investigations raised a number of allegations, among them that
organized crime had "substantial influence" over the union and
that the union's payroll was padded with friends, relatives and
cronies of union leaders and people with mob ties.
Appearing before the committee, Hanley refused to answer all of
its questions, pleading the 5th Amendment 86 times. Hanley has
steadily denied allegations of mob influence and has never been
charged with a crime.
John Gibson, the union's former secretary-treasurer, was found
guilty in 1980 of misuse of union funds and served a brief prison
He still receives $83,000 a year from the union, which Monday
described the sum as retirement pay. Union officials in 1984,
however, told Senate investigators that Gibson and other former
union leaders receive lifetime salaries as consultants.
A series of articles in the Tribune in 1977 noted that Hanley had
hiked his salary to the third highest among the nation's union
leaders, $100,000 at the time, and handed union jobs to
relatives, alleged mob figures and union leaders with full-time
Hanley received $341,262 in salary and expenses in 1994 as
president of the union and executive director of Local 1 in
Chicago, according to records on file with the U.S. Labor
Thomas Hanley, Hanley's son, received $303,182 in salary and
expenses in 1994 as the union's director of organizing,
secretary-treasurer of its Joint Board in Chicago and president
of Local 1, union documents show.
In 1991 the government took over the union's 22,000-member local
in Atlantic City, saying mob figures embezzled $20,000 a month
from it. The federal control has since been lifted.