Criminality in Labor Unions

March 4, 1953

Report Outline
Multiple Exploitation by Racketering Unions
Labor Racketeering and the Law
Self-Policing by Labor Organizations

Multiple Exploitation by Racketering Unions

Efforts to clean up corruption-tainted unions and to expel criminal elements from their ranks have been given new urgency by the New York waterfront scandals. While criminal penetration of A.F.L. and C.I.O. affiliates is certainly not extensive, a series of disclosures during recent years has created mounting alarm among the top leaders of organized labor. Limited reforms after earlier investigations, and occasional convictions of labor racketeers, seem to have had no lasting effects. It is now recognized that, unless radical remedies are applied wherever corruption is found, serious and possibly permanent injury will be suffered by the whole labor movement.

Investigation of the International Longshoremen's Association (A.F.L.) by the New York State Crime Commission developed evidence of criminal activities which ranged from intimidation and exploitation of both workers and employers to bribery, extortion and murder. The waterfront investigation is shortly to be taken up where the New York commission left off, in televised hearings before a subcommittee of the Senate Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. The Senate inquiry will cover a broader field —-extending to Gulf and Pacific coast ports and additional ports on the Atlantic seaboard—and the senators will have better facilities for obtaining evidence and bringing their findings to national attention. Closed sessions to lay the groundwork for later open hearings are now in progress at New York.

Sen. Tobey (R., N. H.), chairman of the Interstate Commerce committee and of the so-called “crime watchdog panel,” served in 1951 as a member of the special Senate crime investigating committee under Sen. Kefauver (D., Tenn.). Tobey has said the Kefauver committee erred in dealing lightly with crime in the labor movement. He announced, Feb. 20, that his investigators had uncovered new evidence which he believed would result in additional indictments in New York and would lay the basis for stronger federal legislation to deal with labor racketeering. Meanwhile the A.F.L. executive council, which heretofore has been reluctant to interfere in the affairs of affiliates, has ordered the International Longshoremen's Association to rid itself of unsavory characters by Apr. 30, on pain of suspension from the federation. National officers of the C.I.O. were given power in 1951 to oust racketeers from affiliated unions if the members fail to do so. Action by the A.F.L. has included creation of a “racket-busting” committee to look into cases in which franchises to establish new locals have been issued to ex-convicts or to persons with no previous attachment to the trade union movement, George Meany, now president of the A.F.L. has been a member of this committee since its establishment in May 1952 and Walter P. Reuther, new president of the C.I.O., has had personal experience with gangster-type operations in locals of the United Automobile Workers of America.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Organized Crime
May 14, 2004  Gang Crisis
Mar. 27, 1992  Mafia Crackdown
Oct. 11, 1991  Youth Gangs
Mar. 17, 1989  Racketeering Law Comes Under Attack
Jun. 19, 1981  Organized Crime: The American Shakedown
Mar. 11, 1970  Drive on Organized Crime
Jan. 18, 1961  Interstate Crime Syndicates
Mar. 04, 1953  Criminality in Labor Unions
Mar. 17, 1950  Suppression of Crime Syndicates
Aug. 10, 1934  The Federal Government and Organized Crime
Oct. 20, 1931  Mob Disturbances in the United States
Organized Crime
Unions and Labor-Management Relations