TEAMSTERS CLEANING UP JAVITS LOCAL
Byline: Rich Wilner
NEW YORK — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Wednesday tossed out the leadership of Local 807, which supplies labor to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and promised more honest labor relations and less influence from organized crime figures.
But Ron Carey, the general president of the Teamsters Union, said the move to put Local 807, including its Trade Show Division, under emergency trusteeship would have little immediate effect on the cost to exhibitors who show at industry events at the site.
At a press conference on the sidewalk outside the Javits Center, Carey said the takeover of Local 807, the 19th New York area labor group to be put into trusteeship, was aimed more at fraud inside the union which favored felons, organized crime members and cronies of union officials at the expenses of general Local membership.
“The Javits Center has become a United Nations for the mob,” said Carey, in the latest salvo in his three-year battle to clean up the Teamsters’ tarnished image. “The Gambinos, Genoveses, Bonannos, Columbos and Luccheses — these are the people whose friends and associates are getting many of the good jobs at the Javits Center.”
While executives who present trade shows at the Javits Center were quick to praise Carey’s efforts, those familiar with the cost structure there said union work rules take a far deeper bite out of their wallets and won’t be addressed by the takeover of Local 807.
Jonathan Larkin, vice president, The Larkin Group, the largest end user of the Javits Center and the operator of the International Fashion Boutique Show, International Fashion Fabrics Exhibition and the International Children’s Fashion Show, among others, said the takeover was “a step in the right direction.
“We look forward to seeing the residual benefits of what Mr. Carey announced today.”
Cy Shimel, president of the NAMSB (National Association of Men’s Sportswear Buyers) Show, said he was “delighted that they are taking steps to make the Javits Center a better place to put on a show.”
However, work rules in New York, which, for example, require seven workers to unload a truck, compared with three in Chicago, and which spell out overlapping jurisdictions, require 60 percent more man-hours compared with other cities, according to one person close to the trade show business.
Work rules are covered in multiyear labor agreements. Even though these agreements were signed by an allegedly corrupt union leadership, amending them raises difficult legal questions, a spokeswoman for the union said Wednesday. The national Teamsters Union will take up these issues in the next several months, she said.
The current labor deal between Local 807 and management was signed in October 1994 and runs through October 1998.
At the same time, Joseph D. McCann, acting chief executive officer of the state-run Javits Center, which rents out space to trade shows, but does not provide labor, said increased identification requirements, including photographs of workers when picking up paychecks, have reduced the risk of “ghost workers” — workers who never show up and have paychecks picked up by associates, jacking up labor costs. He also noted that increased security has lowered thefts at the facility by 77 percent in the past year.
— Fairchild News Service