Requested Appointment of Former Attorney General Roland Burris

Business/City Editors


Chicago Laborers’ Union Agrees to Unprecedented Moves

to Guarantee Integrity and Confidence in Leadership

One of the nation’s largest unions, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, was urged Friday to appoint former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to oversee administration of Chicago’s Local 1001 as part of a voluntary reform agreement. Laborers’ Local 1001 represents nearly 3,000 municipal government employees.

The request to appoint Burris supervisor was made by Local 1001 legal counsel in a meeting Friday here in Chicago with a national union official. Local 1001 and LIUNA have been engaged in private discussions over several months concerning the appointment of an independent supervisor to lead an internal reform initiative here at Local 1001, as part of a nationwide anti-corruption effort undertaken by LIUNA several years ago under mandate from the federal government.

National union officials allege that Local 1001 engages in corrupt business practices and its internal affairs are influenced by organized crime, allegations that Local 1001 officials stridently refute. However, the local union has agreed to enter into a voluntary supervision agreement if Burris is appointed to that role by LIUNA, which has sole decision-making authority in this matter.

Nate Gibson, the first African-American union member elected president of the Chicago local said, “My mission is to ensure that Local 1001 is free from any misconduct, corruption or outside influence. The honorable working men and women of our union demand a clean and well-run organization.

“We turn to Roland Burris because of his untarnished integrity and reputation for fairness. The former Attorney General is held in highest regard by our members and the entire city,” said Gibson. “He will have full control and he will have our full cooperation.”

“Given Mr. Burris’ background and reputation, we can expect an aggressive investigation and aggressive oversight, which we welcome,” Gibson said.

Burris commended the union for voluntarily acting to investigate allegations of misconduct. “This provides an opportunity to help make Local 1001 the model for 21st century blue collar municipal labor unions,” said Burris. “I welcome the task.”

Burris, currently of counsel with the Chicago law firm of Burris, Wright, Slaughter & Tom, LLC, has a long and distinguished career, including serving with the U.S. Treasury Department, cabinet member of Illinois Governor Dan Walker, National Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Operation PUSH and Illinois Comptroller. In 1978, he became the first African-American elected to a major political office in Illinois when he became Illinois Attorney General.

“The members of Local 1001 work hard to keep our city clean and maintain Chicago’s image as a world-class city,” said Gibson. “We need to ensure that their interests are protected, and this can be best accomplished by the appointment of Roland Burris in the critical role as supervisor of our union.” Gibson added that the union’s outside auditor has never challenged the financial integrity of Local 1001.

Since 1995, the U.S. Justice Department has been overseeing internal efforts by LIUNA to ensure that its local unions are free from misconduct, corruption, and abuse. LIUNA’s efforts have involved more than 40 of its local unions across the country. Laborers’ Local 1001 is a member of the Laborers’ District Council of Chicago, which is an umbrella organization for 21 local unions. Local 1001 represents 2,725 union members that are employed by the City of Chicago and its departments of Streets and Sanitation, Transportation, Forestry and Aviation. Local 1001 members sweep city sidewalks, clean-up roadsides and airport terminals, fill pot holes, remove graffiti, trim trees and provide rodent control services.
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