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Thursday, April 16, 2009

East Bay Laborer Alleges Union Corruption in Federal Lawsuit

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2009 at 3:49 PM

click to enlarge A complaint arrives
  • A complaint arrives

As journalists, we hate to admit it, but San Francisco isn't exactly a hotbed of political-corruption scandals. (Local political observers say there are a few reasons for this silver lining, which is amply clouded by the city's general dysfunction and ideology-driven policy blunders.) Our most recent poster boy of malfeasant politicians, former supervisor Ed Jew, was busted for the relatively venal sin of lying about where he lived on campaign forms (and shaking down those tapioca joints...).

The East Bay is a different story. From Oakland Police Sgt. Derwin Longmire, the buddy of accused criminal and Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV, to former State Sen. Don Perata -- recognizable by the coterie of FBI agents that trail him as part of a federal probe -- there's no shortage of public officials over the bridge suspected of dirty dealings. Now it appears that a quasi-public body of some prominence -- Local 304 of the Laborers International Union, which represents construction workers and has offices in Oakland, Hayward, and Livermore -- is also going to be under scrutiny.

That's because Hayward resident Jose Lechuga is suing the union in San Francisco's federal courthouse, alleging that work was doled out unevenly among members based on a system of "accepting bribes or kickbacks." The details of this scenario aren't clear in court documents, which assert that Lechuga collected more than 100 signatures from other Local 304 members on a petition for an investigation of the union's activities. The lawsuit was filed earlier this week.

There's no saying yet whether there's truth to Lechuga's allegations. But it certainly wouldn't be the first time that the coastal plain across the Bay proved a good place to be on the take. Check out the lawsuit here.

Photo by watchsmart.

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Peter Jamison

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