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NCJ Number: 199953 Find in a Library
Title: Landrum-Griffin Act: A Case Study in the Possibilities and Problems in Anti-Union Corruption Law
Journal: Criminal Justice Review  Volume:27  Issue:2  Dated:Autumn 2002  Pages:301-320
Author(s): David Witwer
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 20
Type: Case Study
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The history of a reform group in Teamsters Local 282 in New York City demonstrates the ability of corrupt incumbent officers with organized crime connections to circumvent the intentions of the Landrum-Griffin Act (1959) and stifle dissent.
Abstract: The Landrum-Griffin Act stemmed from hearings on union corruption held by the U.S. Senate's Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field (1957-59). The act's provisions reflected many conflicting interests, including the desire of business groups to impede new union organizing; however, five of the act's seven titles addressed union governance and focused on countering union corruption by fostering union democracy. The act failed to achieve one of its primary aims, however, which was democratic reform in the Teamsters Union. The history of reform efforts in Teamsters Local 282 in New York City is a case study of such a failure. John Cody led this local from the early 1970's until he was sent to prison in 1983. The Gambino crime family sponsored Cody and protected him from the intimidation of contractors and other criminal gangs. In addition, the Gambinos manipulated the network of informal and illicit relationships between employers and the union. Cody's role in these arrangements made him a valuable ally for the Gambinos and the dominant businesses in New York City's construction industry. Members of the local recognized that the collective bargaining agreement was being enforced selectively and that grievances filed against certain employers were not addressed. In 1975 a group of long-time members of Local 282 organized themselves into Fear of Reprisal Ends (FORE). In spite of its efforts to challenge Cody and his policies and practices that were detrimental to union members, FORE was unable to unseat Cody through the electoral process due to intimidation by Cody's supporters as well as apathy and defeatism among the members. This article concludes that the lack of meaningful enforcement mechanisms undermined the Landrum-Griffin Act's effectiveness, proving that a law that combines transparency and the declaration of reform values is insufficient. Democratic reform can be effective only if the reform constituency receives meaningful protection and support. This article discusses how the act's shortcomings led the Federal Government to resort to the more intrusive and more problematic remedies of the RICO Act. This article suggests another alternative, i.e., bolstering of the Landrum-Griffin Act with provisions that counter intimidation tactics that corrupt the democratic process. 101 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Federal legislation; Labor laws; Labor racketeering; New York; Organized crime; Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; Unions
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