Sunday, June 25, 1995


Carpenters union chief Fred Devine is all over the place these days.

His name is plastered on highway billboards, on TV ads and even banners flown along the beach.

So who the heck is this guy?

The message Fred Devine is paying big bucks to spread is that he is the proud president of the Carpenters District Council of New York, "professionals working together to rebuild America."

It doesn't hurt that among the motorists and TV viewers are many of the 25,000 carpenters he hopes will vote for him in the union's first-ever democratic election next month.

The election is a key reform won by a 1990 federal civil racketeering lawsuit that charged Devine and other union officials with 20 years of mob-linked corruption.

Devine wasn't charged with any crime, but authorities offered massive evidence of his ties to four organized crime families, pay-offs he allegedly took from a half-dozen contractors and even a scheme to get his teeth fixed in exchange for union referrals.

Devine denied everything, but he signed a consent decree with the government in 1993 that instituted a series of reforms and paved the way for open elections.

Now it's showdown time.

In a race that will be settled over five days of balloting in late July, all of the council's top jobs are at stake.

Devine faces three challengers for the presidency.

John Abbatemarco, the council's current first vice-president, says Devine has turned the plush, multi-million dollar Carpenters headquarters on Hudson St. into "a place of dark secrets haunted by fear and intimidation."

Similar attacks have been launched by John Greaney, a feisty rank-and-file carpenter, and Patrick Harvey, the soft-spoken chief of the carpenters' largest union local and a close ally of former council President Paschal McGuinness.

In response, Devine's allies have waged a campaign that combines lavish promotion with mudslinging.

Black nylon lightweight jackets with Devine's name on them have sprung up at construction sites all over the city and he has paid for repeated promotional m ailings.

At the same time, Devine aides have leaked revelations about one candidate's alleged sexual affairs and drunken driving conviction, another's reportedly improper use of Social Security numbers and a third's supposed gambling problem.

Still, his backers say he is the best bet for union carpenters.

"Fred Devine is the real reformer in this race," insists Devine's chief spokesman, union lawyer Bernard Cohen. "He is rescuing this union, taking it in a new direction."

Cohen himself has become a target in the campaign because of fees of more than $1 million charged by his firm, Santangelo, Santangelo and Cohen.

"We are worth it. I do nothing but work for this union," said Cohen.

Devine has also caught flack for salting the payroll with relatives.

His two sons, daughter and daughter-in-law each earn more than $50,000 annually at the council, and son Michael is paid $110,000 as a special assistant to his father.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.