The city’s largest construction union is taking steps to root out possible ties to organized crime among its members.
The New York City District Council of Carpenters, which has been under court supervision since 1994, is expanding the authority of its federal monitor to bring charges against union members suspected of “knowingly associating with any member or associate of any La Cosa Nostra crime family or any other criminal group,” according to an order filed in federal court on Tuesday.
The charges will be heard by a newly-hired independent hearing officer, Sharon L. McCarthy, a partner at the law firm Kostelanetz & Fink.
“The leadership team of the New York City District Council of Carpenters continues to work with the Independent Monitor to push for the highest standards of transparency and ethics,” Joseph Geiger, the District Council’s executive secretary-treasurer, said in a statement. “This latest action will make it so that beyond just actions taken by this organization, appropriate action may be taken by a body independent of this organization against any member who fails to uphold those standards.”
Last year, the union’s monitor, Glen McGorty, said he was considering ways to change how the organization removed members affiliated with organized crime. Prior to Tuesday’s order, the monitor could only remove union leaders and employees on grounds that they have connections to organized crime. A trial committee of elected members, however, would decide cases involving rank-and-file members accused of having such affiliations.
Tuesday’s order grants McGorty additional oversight of the union’s acceptance of new members, as well as the transfer of members between the District Council’s local affiliates. Those running for leadership roles in these locals must file an affidavit with the executive secretary-treasurer and inspector general’s office indicating whether they have any ties to criminal organizations.
The changes are inspired, in part, by the 2019 indictments against leaders of two locals. Salvatore “Sal” Tagliaferro of Local 926 and John “Cigars” DeFalco of Local 157 allegedly solicited bribes from individuals who weren’t eligible for union membership and secured them admission anyway. The District Council’s parent organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, subsequently took control of Local 926.
According to a separate letter submitted to the court on Monday, McGorty has agreed to stay on as monitor through December 2021. The extension of his term follows the resignation of the union’s inspector general, David Pié, in June. The union’s inspector general’s office is key to the organization’s eventual independence from court oversight. At the time, McGorty called the inspector general’s departure a “setback.”
Pié’s departure followed other recent leadership changes at the union. In February, the District Council elected a new president, Paul Capurso, following the resignation of two presidents amid allegations of misconduct.