How Things Fall Off the Backs of Trucks

On Corruption in New York City’s Construction Industry

toytrucks On Corruption in New York Citys Construction IndustryIf it weren’t for Tom Robbins, New York press coverage of unions—and union corruption—would be virtually nonexistent.

In this week’s Voice, he charts the rise and fall of Michael Forde, the former head of the New York City District Council of Carpenters who last week confessed to an at least 16-year history of taking bribes from contractors to look the other way while they bilked benefits from unionized carpenters:

He read his plea from a piece of paper he held in his hand. “I, along with other union officials,” he said, “accepted bribes in the form of cash payments from certain contractors.” He added that when he took the bribes, he knew he was violating a consent decree issued by a judge in the same courthouse. The decree was supposed to represent the sworn agreement by Forde and other union leaders to shun the mobsters and crooks who have long preyed on the New York City District Council of Carpenters, making it one of the Mafia’s happiest hunting grounds in the city’s cash-rich construction industry.

Mr. Forde, whose union was a big donor to, and canvasser for, political campaigns, apparently follows in a long line of incredibly corrupt carpenters’ union leaders:

[T]he three previous Council leaders had each been charged with racketeering: One beat the rap; another was convicted; the third disappeared, his wallet washing up under the Throgs Neck Bridge. But over the next few years, every time I heard Forde’s lawyers assuring Judge Charles Haight, who was overseeing the federal consent decree, that the Council was doing everything that could be done to keep members and workplaces on the straight and narrow, I thought of how Mike Forde had jumped when Little John O’Connor crooked his finger.

And who says New York real estate isn’t still a seamy industry? Read the whole article here.