BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) –  Construction union thugs used the state Department of Motor Vehicles database to target nonmember workers and their families for violence, property damage and threats of sexual assault, federal officials said Tuesday as they announced the arrests of 12 union leaders and members.The president of Operating Engineers Local 17, Mark Kirsch, and several other high-ranking officials and members were charged with extortion and racketeering in an eight-count indictment detailing a 10-year reign authorities said stunted economic growth in a struggling part of the state.
“At the end of the day, it cost the job sites and the developers and the workers millions of dollars in property damage, millions of dollars in lost jobs,” U.S. Attorney Terrance Flynn said.
At job sites big and small where non-Local 17 members were hired, union members caused more than $1 million in damage to more than 40 pieces of heavy machinery by pouring sand and grinding compound into the oil systems, breaking windows, destroying tires and cutting fuel lines, investigators said.
Particularly unnerving to investigators was the union’s ability to run potential victims’ license plates through the DMV database to obtain personal information, including their wives’ names and addresses.
“It was astounding to us,” Flynn said.
This will be nothing new to peple living here in western NY, nor will it to those who have been forced to deal with unions.
The president of one business reluctant to sign a collective bargaining agreement with Local 17 was stabbed in the neck and had his tires slashed in December 2002, according to the indictment. A little more than a month later, defendant Carl Larson, a union organizer, tried to persuade the businessman to sign the agreement. The conversation is recounted in court documents:
“What are the positives? You guys slash my tires, stab me in the neck, try to beat me up in a bar. What are the positives to signing? There are only negatives,” the victim said.
“The positives are that the negatives you are complaining about would go away,” Larson responded.
The U.S. Department of Labor, state police and FBI have been investigating the local since 2003, and traced the criminal activity from 1997 to the present day. The threats and violence happened everywhere from the smallest house demolition to major or publicly funded projects at high-profile sites such as Ralph Wilson Stadium and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
The investigation did not target the union as a whole, which according to its web site has 2,100 members in six western New York counties.
They should have. Criminal investigations of unions is fishing in a barrel; You’re bound to catch something. Oh, and guess which party runs Buffalo? Anyone wonder now why the population of Buffalo has been dropping faster than the temperature in the upper decks of the Ralph in a January game?
And spare me about how the Unions are representing the workers to the management. In reality, Unions pit labor against other labor… with the added attraction of the parasite union bosses taking large portions of the added take for themselves.
And no, this local is not unique. The Buffalo News notes :
Law enforcement officials likened the case to a recent investigation that led to prison terms for several of the top officials of Laborers Local 91 in Niagara Falls.
That’s about 30 miles up the road from Buffalo, in case you didn’t know.
The local’s Web site says that its jurisdiction includes Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Orleans, Wyoming, and western Genesee Counties, except for Batavia) and that the Local has been in existence since Jan. 11, 1900
It’s “jurisdiction “?
Ummm… who appointed them? Don’t you mean, their ‘territory”?
I’d better watch myself, lest I end up face down in a plate of pasta with clam sauce.
Will someone please explain to me what service is provided by Unions anymore? I mean, shy of keeping the local thugs employed, I don’t see it.