Chasing racketeers from the New York-New Jersey waterfront is difficult but will protect workers and make the port more competitive, said a former prosecutor who helped a Bayonne, N.J., longshoremen’s local rid itself of mob control.
“The schemes are still there. … If you eliminate that, you’re going to bring the costs down,” said Robert C. Stewart, deputy administrator of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1588, which has been under a court-appointed monitor since 2003.
Stewart testified in the last of six hearings the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor held to highlight no-show jobs and other practices it says drive up costs and invite Mafia influence at the port.
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The hearings ended with the display of several complex charts detailing family and other connections between Genovese crime family members and ILA officials and members that Commissioner Ron Goldstock said included a “privileged few” who received high pay for relatively little work.
Stewart testified that the court-appointed administrators at Local 1588 struggled to break a “culture of corruption” reinforced by decades of Genovese crime family control. He said the mob used its influence over company hiring agents to demand payoffs for jobs and training and relief assignments that led to higher-paying jobs.
He said Local 1588 members used to have to buy tickets to an annual Christmas party of Nicholas Furina, a hiring agent who was banned from the docks after pleading guilty to extorting union members for jobs. He said that practice was banned after the monitors took over.
“People think that if there’s not gunplay down on the piers and people getting beat up and thrown in the river, things must be OK. That’s not the case,” Stewart said.
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