June 25, 1992
Members of Local 89 of the Laborers' International
Union this week are receiving mail ballots for an election of
officers and directors ordered two months ago by a federal court
that voided the union's June 1990 balloting.
Twelve candidates are seeking election to
six offices for the union representing primarily construction
workers, said Harry Jordan, secretary-treasurer of the 3,000-member
Ballots will be counted at the conclusion
of voting July 8.
Forcing the special election was Robert Ross,
a member of the Labor Reform Committee, a dissident group that
believes the 1990 election was subverted by existing officers
of the local.
Ross filed a grievance with the U.S. Department
of Labor, claiming that he and other dissident union members were
denied access to the local's nomination process for officers and
The dissident group claimed that the local
violated the constitution of the Laborers' International Union
of North America and the Landrum-Griffin Act, a 1959 labor law
that provided safeguards for democratic methods in union elections.
In April, U.S. District Judge Judith N. Keep
declared the union's 1990 election results void and ordered a
new election, to be supervised by officials of the U.S. Department
of 1 Labor.
"We will be supervising the process
every step of the way, even down to the installation of new officers,"
said Wayne Goad, deputy area administrator for the Western United
The current controversy is not the first
for Local 89. The local was embroiled in a scandal in 1976 when
16 trustees of the union were indicted by a federal grand jury
on charges of conspiracy to embezzle trust funds and bribery.
By July 1977, all 16 had pleaded guilty or
were convicted of various crimes and sentenced to various prison
terms. E. Dene Armstrong, former secretary-treasurer for Local
89, was convicted of nine charges and received the stiffest sentence,
a 10-year federal prison term.
None of the former union officials was involved
in the current election controversy.
Dissident Ross and two other members of the
Labor Reform Committee have been nominated for offices in the
Although union officers are elected for three-year
terms, the special election will fill partial terms through next
June, said Local 89's Jordan. At that point, another election
will take place for full three-year terms.
Jordan disputed the contention that some
nominees had been illegally disqualified from the 1990 election
"We thought we had a very democratic
process," he said. "We were trying to exercise a democratic
procedure, but obviously the court decided to open it up."
Charles Galvan, an organizer of the Labor
Reform Committee and candidate for recording secretary of the
union, said the existing management spends $2 million a year to
administer the local's business.
"We've got 3,000 members and only 600
people working," Galvan said. "It doesn't seem like
they (current union leadership) have done much good for the membership."
The union's members, most of whom are employed
in the construction industry, earn $17.28 per hour plus fringe
But Galvan said an increasing share of his
work in recent years has included fewer benefits.
Jordan said the legal battle over the disputed
election and the current election will cost the local $30,000