Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

No Show Jobs and Overstaffing Hurt New York Harbor, a Report Says

Mugshot of Vincent Gigante taken in 1960.Mugshot of Vincent Gigante taken in 1960 Corruption has been ingrained in the docks around New York Harbor for so long that the movie most identified with it was filmed in black and white. But 58 years after the release of “On the Waterfront,” no-show jobs held by relatives of mobsters and other well-connected people continue to vex government officials trying to make the ports more efficient and more competitive.
The examples, according to a new report by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, are egregious.
The report said shipping companies paid salaries that exceeded $400,000 for jobs that “require little or no work.”
Unlike workers at other ports, those on the docks in the New York area operate in gangs that are much bigger than needed, the report said. Three dockworkers are paid to operate each crane, although only one can work at a time. The work rules result in many workers’ being paid for 24 hours per day and, in some cases, as many as 27 hours within one day.
The commission concluded that the ability of the New York area’s ports to compete for cargo shipments is threatened by the pervasive influence of organized-crime families and the perverse work rules the longshoremen’s union has maintained.
The report, which summarizes hearings that the commission held late in 2010, said that allowing the union to keep these “prime positions filled by mob and union favorites merely adds to organized-crime influence and makes the port less competitive.”
The report was released late on Tuesday, just as leaders of the International Longshoremen’s Association gathered in Florida to prepare to negotiate new labor contracts for ports on the East Coast, including those in New York City and northern New Jersey.
Setting the tone for those talks, Harold J. Daggett, the union’s president and its chief negotiator, said in a speech this month: “When situations around you place you in a fight for your lives, you tend to clench your fist a bit tighter and prepare to defend yourself. That’s where we are today.”
After the broad contract is worked out, the union will negotiate a separate contract to set work rules for the ports around New York Harbor, said Joseph C. Curto, president of the New York Shipping Association, which represents the companies that operate the cargo terminals.
Mr. Curto acknowledged that the ports had been burdened by “excessive staffing and overtime payments that can no longer be sustained or rationalized.” Those costs “have made the port unnecessarily expensive and less competitive,” Mr. Curto said.
But Mr. Curto did not welcome the commission’s call for putting an end to those practices. Instead, he urged the commission, a two-state agency charged with policing the docks, to back off.
“We will address these issues during labor negotiations as part of a smart business plan; not because the Waterfront Commission thinks we should,” Mr. Curto said. “The public policy of the United States calls for collective bargaining to be conducted by the private parties involved without governmental interference.”
Asked if the issues raised in the commission’s report would be on the table in the coming negotiations, Mr. Curto said, “These are things that were already on our table in previous negotiations.” He declined to predict whether the work rules would change significantly in the new contract.
James McNamara, a spokesman for the union, said in response to the report that the union had been “successful” in previous negotiations, but described the labor agreements as “a two-way street.” He added, “Our members are well paid, but we have a tiered system, which helped management lower costs.”
He also said the cost of dealing with the Waterfront Commission was an expense that shippers in other ports did not have to shoulder.
The union is particularly concerned about the increasing automation of ship loading and unloading. Where there were once 40,000 longshoremen unloading cargo crate by crate and sack by sack, there now are about 4,000 union members guiding steel containers between the decks of massive ships and tractor-trailers and freight trains. Some container terminals in New Jersey are making plans to drastically reduce the need for laborers.
In his speech to an industry group in California, Mr. Daggett made it clear that the union would resist those innovations.
“We know technology is coming and we know we can’t stop it forever, but we will not be deterred from protecting our work and protecting our jurisdiction,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech.
The looming changes in the need for labor on the docks may explain the resistance the union has put up to the commission’s campaign to diversify the work force in the ports. The union has repeatedly questioned the commission’s authority to press for the hiring of more minorities and women, most recently this week when it refused to certify that it would select a new batch of workers without discrimination.
The report also focused on the union’s employment of so many relatives of organized crime figures, most notably Vincent Gigante, the deceased head of the Genovese crime family, who was known as the Chin. One of Mr. Gigante’s nephews, Ralph, is a shop steward for one of the longshoremen’s union locals, a job that has paid him $400,000 a year or more. Ralph is one of nine of Mr. Gigante’s relatives working for the union, the report said.
Two of Mr. Gigante’s sons-in-law, Joseph Colonna and Robert Fyfe Jr., are shop stewards for the same local as Ralph Gigante is, according to the commission. Mr. Colonna succeeded Mr. Gigante’s brother-in-law, John Bullaro, and was paid about $400,000 in 2009, the report says.
When asked in November 2010 how that came to be, James Devine, the president of N.Y.C.T., a large terminal operator, gave a simple answer: “Influence,” he testified.
While the commissioners say there is annual pay of more than $400,000 for shop stewards who have no clearly defined duties, Mr. Daggett testified to the contrary. He said the stewards worked 24 hours a day to ensure that there were no labor problems in the port. And, he added, $400,000 was “not a lot of money today.” 



Post a Comment