McGough reply 1

March 6, 2000



I don�t usually take the time to respond to Jim McGough�s e-mails, but today has been a good day, an important day for the Laborers� Chicago District Council, and when Jim�s e-mail was brought to my attention I thought it best to respond.


Today, after two years, three weeks and four days of trusteeship, democratically elected District Council officers were sworn in.� The new leadership is a fine group of capable, intelligent and dedicated officers whose independence and honesty were confirmed by a court-appointed monitor.�� The Union�s new International General President flew into Chicago to personally swear in the officers.�� This was the day that Jim McGough has claimed to be awaiting for a long time.� It finally came.


I had heard about Jim�s e-mails and their wild accusations for some time, but I wasn�t moved to respond to them until today.� Jim�s e-mail contains so many inaccuracies that it�s hard to know where to begin.� I�ll take the most serious charges in order.


1.� Jim alleges an improvidently-granted variance means that only one person, rather than two,� now signs checks.


Actually, what happened is that on December 13, 1999, then-General President Arthur Coia granted a variance combining the offices of President and Secretary-Treasurer.� At the same time, he also granted a variance authorizing the Business Manager to be the co-signer on checks.� Thus, two elected officers will continue to perform that function.


2.� Jim alleges that I �permitted� certain officers to be elected so that these officers would retain my law partner as counsel to the benefit funds.�


This is a truly cynical allegation revealing Jim�s belief that no one in the Laborers� Union is capable of independent thought or action.� First of all, I did not choose who ran for office in the election.� The only person who was empowered to disqualify candidates was the court-appointed Monitor, Steven Miller.� Miller approved all of the elected candidates.� Second, my partner Peter Dowd is fund co-counsel for 2 of the 6 Laborer pension and welfare funds.� Those 2 funds also have a second co-counsel who is unaffiliated with my law firm.� Third, I am not a trustee of any benefit fund, and I have never been one.� Thus, Peter Dowd�s appointment is not a conflict of interest.� Furthermore, it is a common practice in union-side labor law firms that different attorneys from the same firm represent the union and its benefit funds.�� Fourth, unlike Jim, I believe that the elected officers of the Union are capable of thinking for themselves and making their own decisions.� Jim evidently thinks not.��


Jim does state correctly that Harvey Nathan and others were temporarily appointed as trustees to the 2 funds.� There was a good reason for this.� The Union was placed in trusteeship and the Independent Hearing Officer who placed it in trusteeship, Peter Vaira, specifically directed that fund trustees be investigated.� I initially removed all of the trustees from both these funds (in addition to removing all Union officers) and required all newly-appointed trustees to be investigated before returning them to the fund.� This process took about 2-3 months.� Again, one would expect Jim to applaud this process since it was intended to remove corrupt officers and trustees.�


3.� Jim alleges that the Union�s Executive Board is now comprised of 6 officers instead of the constitutionally-required 7.�


I thought that Jim would have read the LIUNA constitution before alleging that the elections were unconstitutional.� Article VII Section 7 of the Uniform District Council Constitution states:


In the event that there is a combination of offices, there shall be elected from among the delegates of the District Council such number of Executive Board members as to complete the complement of seven members.


And that�s exactly what happened here.� With the combination of President and Secretary-Treasurer, an additional Executive Board member was elected so that the total number remained at seven.


Don�t get me wrong when I criticize Jim.� Open discussion and disagreement is healthy for labor unions.� The Laborers might not have had enough of it in the past, and this may in some way be part of the reason that the Union was placed in trusteeship.�


But Jim is not just expressing his opinion.� He is deliberately spreading falsehoods about the Union that are unfair and cast it in a bad light.� At the very least, he is reckless in his disregard of the facts.�� For the last 6 months,� I have been serving as the court-appointed Trustee following an appointment by United States District Judge Gettleman under a federal consent decree.� Frankly, I believe that Judge Gettleman is in a superior position than Jim to determine my fitness for the position.� At least a federal judge will conduct a fair hearing before claiming to know the facts.


Jim accuses me of having a conflict of interest.� In my opinion, it is Jim McGough who has a conflict of interest.� When the trusteeship first began, Jim asked me to pay� him for establishing a District Council website.� I seriously considered doing this until he told me what how much the Council must pay him: over $40,000 per year in consulting fees.� I rejected this rip off.� Soon after that, it was reported to me that I was attacked on Jim�s website.�


What�s even more disturbing is a recent report I received about a newly-elected Laborer official whom Jim approached.� Jim reportedly told that official that he, Jim, was going to set up a District Council website whether the official liked it or not.� According to Jim, the Council official could either pay Jim to run the website or else Jim would attack him on the website.� I�m inclined to believe this account because of the way Jim has treated me.�


For many years, Jim complained about corruption in the Laborers Union, and much of what he said turned out to be correct.� A number of local unions he accused of corruption were eventually placed into trusteeship.� But frankly, Jim has either lost perspective or has turned vindictive.� He now attacks anyone who does not agree with him, or in my case, anyone who does not pay him.� Thank you for taking the time to read this response.� I trust that all of you will be careful about accepting all that Jim has to say.�



Robert Bloch












threats to pay him to put it on or else he�ll put them on it

asked me for $40,000 consulting contract