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U.S. v. MASON TENDERS DISTRICT COUNCIL OF GREATER N.Y.

May 30, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ROBERT B. REICH, SECRETARY OF LABOR, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
MASON TENDERS DISTRICT COUNCIL OF GREATER NEW YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Sweet, United States District Judge.

OPINION

The Mason Tenders District Council ("MTDC") has moved for an order under Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enjoining Vincent Sombrotto ("Sombrotto"), Edwin Gonzalez ("Gonzalez") and Local 116, Production and Maintenance Employees Union ("Local 116") (collectively "Respondents") from contacting MTDC members and soliciting them to join Local 116. For the following reasons, a preliminary injunction is granted.

Parties

MTDC is a labor organization that represents laborers and other workers in the New York metropolitan area. It is affiliated with the Laborers' International Union of North America ("LIUNA"). Since 1996, it has been a party to a Consent Decree entered by this Court which includes an injunction designed to protect the membership from contact with labor racketeers. The Consent Decree is modeled on one covering the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("IBT" or the "Teamsters").

Sombrotto is President and Gonzalez is Treasurer of Local 116. They were expelled from the IBT and have been enjoined under the IBT Consent Decree from soliciting or trying to represent Teamster-represented workers.

Local 116 is a union that is not affiliated with MTDC, LIUNA, or IBT.

Prior Proceedings

MTDC is a party to a Consent Decree entered by this Court on December 27, 1994, and extended by a Supplemental Consent Decree as a result of an alleged pattern of organized corruption at the MTDC. The MTDC entered the Consent Decree after LIUNA imposed an emergency trusteeship in light of concerns that criminal elements controlled certain local union activity, with the cooperation of corrupt employers. Mason Tenders District Council v. LIUNA, 884 F. Supp. 823, 830 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).

The purposes of the Consent Decree include ensuring "that the District Council shall be maintained and run democratically, with integrity, solely for the benefit of its members, and without unlawful outside influence." Consent Decree, at 4. The Consent Decree, inter alia, enjoins MTDC members from knowingly associating with "any person prohibited from participating in union affairs." Id. at 5, ¶ 3.

Pursuant to this Consent Decree, the MTDC moved for an injunction against the Respondents on January 29, 2002. The Respondents replied on February 26, 2002, and the MTDC submitted a surreply on March 13, 2002. In addition, both plaintiff United States of America and the court-appointed Monitor to the MTDC who is charged with ensuring that the Consent Decree is followed submitted letters in support of MTDC's motion on March 13, 2002, and January 17, 2002, respectively. The motion was considered fully submitted on March 13, 2002.

Facts

I. The Formation of Local 108

In the fall of 1997, LIUNA placed its Local 445 into trusteeship after its Business Manager had illegally transferred most of that Local's membership into an "independent" union called "LIFE" that was not part of LIUNA or the AFL-CIO.

Shortly after Local 445 was placed into trusteeship, Gregg McCarthy resigned as the Business Manager of Local 958 and became the administrator of the Local 958-sponsored employee benefit funds. Local 958 members complained about substandard collective bargaining agreements, poor contract enforcement and a lack of benefits.

Respondent Gonzalez was a Business Agent/Field Representative at Local 958. Local 116, of which Respondent Sombrotto was an officer, ostensibly represented Local 958's staff, including Gonzalez, and the staff of the Local 958 benefit funds.

On February 9, 1998, LIUNA placed Local 958 in a trusteeship. A hearing officer, Peter F. Vaira, upheld the appropriateness of the decision. Local 958 shared expenses in organizing*fn1 with Teamsters Local 966. Hearing Officer Vaira noted that Local 958 officers had entered into a collective bargaining agreement "with an individual who was dismissed from the IBT for embezzlement and dual unionism" and that it was "an affront to the Local 958 membership and a violation of the LIUNA" Ethical Practices Code. Hearing Officer Vaira also found that Local 958 was under the control ...


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