Settlement of ILA suit praised by local chief


The leader of a Baltimore longshoremen's local calls the settlement of a civil racketeering suit which leaves John Bowers in charge of the 62,000-member International Longshoremen's Association a victory for the union's members.

"I'm extremely happy John Bowers was vindicated," said Richard P. Hughes, ILA Atlantic Coast District vice president and the president of ILA Local 953 in Baltimore. "Bowers is a friend of mine."

Hughes said it was important for Bowers to remain in charge of the ILA because he negotiated the union's most recent labor contract and has knowledge essential to its implementation.

"It was extremely important for the rank and file to have him stay," said Huges, whose local represents the port's clerks.

The federal government and lawyers for ILA leaders reached a settlement in the case Tuesday, avoiding a trial in U.S. District Court in New York.

The government had accused the ILA of being a tool of organized crime. It sought to have government trustees supervise six New York union locals and to ban 32 union officers, including Bowers, from participating in union activities.

The ILA represents longshoremen from Maine to Texas.

Bowers is to retain his title as the ILA's international president. However, he agreed in the settlement to either relinquish his management duties over the members of New York Local 1809, which represents office employees of ILA fringe benefit funds, or step down as president of that local.

Two other union officials whose names were mentioned in the criminal case against the Westies organized crime gang, Thomas Ryan and John Potter, were forced to step down as part of the agreement.

A government investigation is continuing against Local 1814 of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Local 1588 of Bayonne, N.J. A trial date in those cases has been scheduled for April 15 to give lawyers time to reach a settlement.

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