Union Briefs: An Assorted Array of Raids, Rats, Refs & RICO...Oh MY!

With so much to write about (and so little time), here are a few selected news stories to remind us how today’s unions are all about…well…something.


Solidarity Succumbs to Economic Greed:

Teamsters attempt to raid TWU at American Airlines.

Back in the 1930s through the 1950s, when the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) were rival federations expanding their memberships as quickly as they could, it was not uncommon for CIO unions to “raid” (as in steal) the members from AFL unions, and vice versa. Although much of that stopped when the AFL and CIO merged in 1955, since then, the occasional rogue union (see Carpenters Union) would pop up and raid another’s members. However, for the most part, the stealing of another union’s members was verboten.

One of the few unions that has not always played well with other unions is the Teamsters. Almost from its very beginning and particularly when the Teamsters have not been part of the AFL-CIO, as they are not today), the Teamsters has raided (or attempted to raid) other unions.

One of the Teamsters’ latest targets are the mechanics at American Airlines who are currently represented by the Transport Workers Union (an AFL-CIO affiliate):

Teamsters are going door to door in Tulsa Saturday to meet with American Airlines mechanics. Teamster organizers say they are in town to reach out to mechanics interested in breaking from the Transport Workers Union.

Dozens of mechanics and other employees from AA and United Airlines gathered at a hotel near the airport Saturday morning to meet with Teamster representatives, according to a news release.


Note: As a non-AFL-CIO union, the Teamsters are free to raid AFL-CIO unions to expand membership. While James P. Hoffa is president of the Teamsters and Richard Trumka is head of the AFL-CIO, it is not likely the Teamsters will rejoin the AFL-CIO. Here’s why.

Solidarity Succumbs to Economic Reality:

Union protests non-union construction on union-owned credit union.

Unions are supposed to be all about ‘solidarity.’ You know, ‘support your union brothers,’ ‘don’t shop at XYZ,’ or something like that.

However, when it comes to finding a bargain, unions and their members are just like every other good capitalist: They want as good a deal as they can get–even if it means stiffing their union brothers.

This is probably why the developer on the United Food & Commercial Workers’ new credit union doesn’t want to pay union wages–and why the painters’ union is peeved:

Members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades picketed the site of the United Food and Commercial Workers federal credit union being constructed on South Main Street Friday morning.

A large inflatable rat, kept inflated by a gas-powered generator, was set up on the sidewalk near the picketers.

Bob Griffiths, IUPAT union representative, said his union’s labor is not being used for painting, drywall and glass.

“They’re building this building with non-union workers,” Griffiths said. “Our union does business with this credit union. All 260 members have individual accounts here. We run our Vacation Fund for our members through this credit union.”

UFCW Chief Executive Officer John Hayduk could not be reached for comment.


NJ Senate President & Union Guy Is Not A NY Giants Fan

…but wants a law to ban replacement referees.

So, apparently, New Jersey’s Senate President (and Ironworkers’ union organizer) Steve Sweeney is a Seattle Seehawks fan and Monday night’s apparently bad call by a replacement referee has cause Sweeney some angst (or cost him some money?).

Although there may be an agreement in the contract dispute, Sweeney wants to pass a law that would ban the NFL’s use of replacement referrees in the Garbage Garden State:

“New Jersey state Senate President Stephen Sweeney today said he plans to introduce legislation prohibiting the playing of professional sporting events with replacement officials, citing the potential for increased injury by inexperienced referees who cannot control a game.

“This past weekend in the NFL has not only made a mockery of a great sport, but shined a very bright light on how important fully trained and professional officiating is to player safety,” said Sweeney. “We wouldn’t allow a factory or construction site to operate without fully trained supervisors on hand to ensure the safety of employees. Why should we do anything differently when the job site is a playing field?”

While Sweeney may just be all bluster, the real question is: Why is a union guy from South Joisey a Seehawks fan instead of the Giants or Eagles?



Ex-Teamster ‘Leg-Breaker’ Facing RICO Rap To Remain Behind Bars

While three out of four of the Boston-area Teamster bosses arrested and charged last week under the Racketeer Influenced * Corrupt Organizations Act are free pending trial, a fourth remains behind bars.

A construction worker prosecutors characterized as a leg-breaker for a rogue crew of Teamsters will remain jailed while U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein decides whether releasing him imperils the victims he’s accused of pummeling to a pulp and frightening out of pressing charges.

With his eight-months pregnant wife looking on at his 90-minute detention hearing yesterday, a fidgety Joseph “Jo Jo” Burhoe, 44, of Braintree also watched as Lt. Martin P. Conley, the state police gang unit investigator who busted him last week on extortion and racketeering charges, sifted through Boston police crime-scene photographs of another Teamster who accused Burhoe of smashing his face outside a South Boston watering hole in 2007 for not toeing the union line.

Apparently, the title ‘leg-breaker’ is one of many titles that Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Burhoe apparently has on his resume.

In addition to being a Teamster enforcer, Jo Jo is also an ex-con who served time for an armed robbery he committed with his father.

He has been stabbed and shot and, police and court records show, lived the life of a criminal since he was a teenager.

Joseph “JoJo” Burhoe was last released from prison in 2007, after serving time for the 2001 armed holdup of a Citizens Bank branch in a Shaw’s Supermarket in ­Medford.

Within months of his release, authorities alleged in a federal indict­ment this week, he went back to his old ways of threats, intim­idation, and violence, this time as a member of the Inter­national Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 82.


Perhaps Jo Jo’s defense will rest on the fact that he had a rather unstable childhood?

“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)


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