ILA appoints ethics counsel

ILA appoints ethics counsel

The International Longshoremen's Association has appointed an independent ethical practices counsel, with authority to investigate allegations of corruption and organized-crime influence on the union.

The new post will be filled by Michael Armstrong, an attorney who was chief counsel to the Knapp Commission, which investigated corruption in the New York City Police Department in the early 1990s.

The ILA also released a newly adopted, 20-page code of ethics, which among other things prohibits union officials from soliciting bribes and from knowingly associating with members of the Mafia or other organized-crime figures.

ILA President John Bowers announced plans to appoint the ethics counsel and issue a code of ethics last summer, amid a continuing investigation by federal prosecutors seeking to file a civil racketeering lawsuit against the ILA.

The investigation follows indictments charging officials of a Bayonne, N.J., ILA local were demanding payoffs for job assignments, and a Brooklyn ILA official of working with mobsters to rig bids on an ILA pharmaceutical-benefits contract. The accused ILA officials have been ousted from their union jobs.

Bowers said the new ethical practices counsel will have free rein to investigate allegations of organized crime or other violations contained in the code of conduct. He said the copies of the code have been provided to all ILA members, along with a toll-free number for confidential complaints.

The code of ethics states that "corruption, discrimination or anti-democratic practices shall not be tolerated" and that no union officials shall have personal financial interests that conflicts with union duties.

The code also requires the ILA's general counsel to work with the ethical practices counsel to study union operations and provide the union executive counsel with recommendations on how to improve operations to eliminate corruption and racketeering.