Federal effort to oust leaders of Teamster local could set precedent

The federal government has gone to court to seize control of a local branch of the Teamster's union.

Elected officers would be ousted and the Union City, N.J., local placed under trustees to end what the government's 35-page complaint called ''systematic union corruption.''

US Attorney W. Hunt Dumont announced the action, which he said was authorized by the Justice Department in Washington. ''We are trying to root out corruption that has been going on for 20 or 30 years in this particular local and give its members the rights they are entitled to under the law,'' Mr. Dumont said.

The move is the first under the civil section of the federal Anti-Racketeering Act against a local union and its leadership.

''Obviously, if successful, it will be used again not only in this district, but across the country,'' Mr. Dumont added.

Generally, organized labor is considered free of racketeering and corruption, although there are a few suspect AFL-CIO unions.

The Justice Department and the Labor Department are cooperating in investigations of the Teamsters and several other unions.

The target of the March 9 action is the so-called ''Provenzano group'' headed by three brothers: Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, now serving a 20-year federal term for racketeering; Nunzio Provenzano, who was sentenced to 10 years for extortion; and Salvatore Provenzano, who succeeded to the local Teamsters presidency held previously by each of his brothers.

The complaint charges that Teamsters Local 560, second largest in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, ''continues to be a captive labor organization . . . dominated through fear and intimidation'' and ''exploited through fraud and corruption'' by the brothers, their daughters, and other associates.

The complaint says the Provenzano group's ''pattern of racketeering activity'' over 20 years or more included ''murder,'' and ''the wrongful use of actual and threatened force, violence, and fear of physical or economic injury'' to force members to surrender their democratic rights in the union.

The leaders named in the complaint and their attorneys were not available immediately for comment. They have until March 22 to show why they should not be removed.

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