Archive for June, 2014


By letter dated June 14, 2014, Local 28’s Boss, I.A. Representative, Bob DiOrio removed another Local 28 union official from office.  Who needs democratic elections in this I.A.?

Brother Ray Lawlor, who was elected Conductor in our last general election, has been removed from office.  Ray, like Kevin Connors and Jimmy Cuiffo has been added to the I.A. body count in its war on union democracy in the I.A. and Local 28.

What did Ray do to offend the Boss?  Ray refused to remove Kevin Connors from a membership meeting.  Apparently Kevin Connors in debating a question at the May, 2014, membership meeting had been ruled out of order by V.P. Barbaro.  Barbaro, as chair and closely following DiOrio’s instructions regarding impermissible discussions at union meetings, took the opportunity to rule Kevin Connors out of order.  Conductor Ray Lawlor was then instructed by the Chair to remove Connors from the meeting.  Lawlor, a genuine leader, in good conscience refused to remove Kevin Connors from the meeting.

What was the impermissible subject matter?  What was so offensive to the Chair and DiOrio that it cannot be discussed at the new, watered-down “informational” meetings?  The overriding issue at that meeting was a vote on an odious proposed constitutional convention resolution that would prohibit 28 retirees from participation in 28 elections and meetings.  Kevin Connors was opposed to the resolution.  He was doing what 28 leadership is supposed to do – speak out and act forcefully against further dilution of democracy in Local 28.  Brother Ray Lawlor displayed the same leadership trait.

The membership at that meeting overwhelmingly supported the retiree right to vote and defeated the ban the retiree vote resolution.

Connors, Cuiffo, and and now Lawlor have paid a high price for being stand-up union men.  There probably will be more 28 officials removed.  There will probably be more “good conscience” refusals to obey DiOrio’s unconscionable orders.  Thanks to this episode we can once again expect DiOrio to begin looking for scab officials to replace removed 28 officials – starting with Lawlor’s replacement.

As one of Ventlines’ commentators recently stated “…leadership in 28 is no longer coming from the podium”.  Ventlines now sees leadership coming from the membership – and that’s good for Local 28 and democracy.



US DOL FORM LM–15  TRUSTEESHIP REPORT is a federal form that must be filed with the US DOL within 30 days of whenever a local union is placed under trusteeship by a parent organization. Under US law, a trusteeship has to be justified. Nigro and DiOrio deliberately filed the I.A’s initial LM–15, seven months late, long after the inception of the Nigro trusteeship of Local 28, on November 13, 2013.  The I.A. DOL filing finally took place June 6, 2014, five full months after the Nigro appointed I.A. subcommittee heard and ratified Nigro’s alleged reasons for instituting the trusteeship.

The DOL FORM LM-15 was supposed to have been submitted to the DOL within 30 days of the start date of 28’s trusteeship.  The allegations submitted to the I.A. subcommittee should have been the same exact allegations submitted to the DOL.  Meaning that it took Nigro and DiOrio five extra months to change their story as to why they placed Local 28 in trusteeship.  Nigro and DiOrio both signed this form under penalty of perjury. The allegations against Local 28 and its officials submitted by DiOrio and Nigro to the I.A. subcommittee on the trusteeship in December of 2013, now appear to differ materially from the June 6, 2014 allegations Nigro and DiOrio submitted above their name to the DOL

For example, at the December, 2013 I.A. subcommittee hearing on trusteeship ratification, DiOrio, in support of the 28 trusteeship alleged that the then five suspended 28 officials and business agents who supported the lawsuit vs Local 28’s former officials and funds administrator (against Nigro’s wishes) had committed the criminal act of “double dipping.”  Meaning these officials then were falsely accused of enriching themselves with illegal per diem payments.  All of which occurred on an error prone system installed by incompetent I.A. Representatives. That “double dipping” charge, (the most serious) as of the June 6th filing, is no longer being used by the I.A. as an excuse to justify the trusteeship with the DOL.  That charge has been omitted in the LM-15.  That charge has been edited out and replaced with “financial malpractice.” Our officials are now guilty of “financial malpractice” by “virtue of their office” because they used the same defective system (installed by DiOrio) that results in per diem overpayments to ALL Local 28 officials and ALL 28 business agents. 

But those guilty of “financial malpractice,” according to the I.A., are ONLY Connors and Cuiffo.  What changed?  Was there I.A. perjury at the subcommittee hearing or with the revised allegations submitted to the DOL on June 6th?

In brief the I.A. is now alleging to the US DOL that the trusteeship of Local 28 is justified because the per diem system installed by incompetent I.A. Representatives now constitutes “financial malpractice” on the part of 28 officials but not on the part of the I.A. officials who designed and installed the defective system.

Sound like Catch 22?  The I.A. logic is like GM suing the innocent drivers who, while driving GM cars, were killed because of the faulty ignition switch.  According to the I.A ‘s logic, the dead are responsible because they relied on GM competence.

There are other discrepancies.  More later.


You Are Not Alone


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Defense Opening Statement

What follows is the Opening Statement of the defense in the trials of Kevin Connors and Jimmy Cuiffo.  Hopefully our members will draw from the statement, knowledge about what our two former officials are facing in their battle with the I.A.  But first and foremost Ventlines hopes this opening statement reassures 28’s membership that there was no evidence presented in either trial that brings shame or disrepute upon Local 28 or Kevin Connors or Jimmy Cuiffo.  Shame lies elsewhere.
This post will remain static on the Guest Opinion page for the foreseeable future.  This post and updates on the trial will appear on the Latest News page of Ventlines.


Co-defendants, Jimmy Cuiffo and Kevin Connors believe these charges never should have been filed.  These charges and this trial are part of a conspiracy that includes multiple acts of vengeance and political retribution against Local 28.  We believe these acts were inspired and ordered by SMART General President Joe Nigro.

These charges were not filed by DiOrio because he is a fastidious housekeeper or a good union administrator.  Nigro is paying Bob DiOrio to file these charges against Kevin and Jimmy because Nigro believes the defendants have insulted him personally and defied his illegal instructions to kill a trust fund lawsuit filed against a former Local 28 official and fund administrator.  DiOrio, unlike his principled and capable predecessor, will say anything and do anything to keep his appointed job and please Joe Nigro, including the filing of these false charges.

Additionally, these charges and the trusteeship of Local 28 are a taste of the spiteful Nigro response to Kevin Connors’ audacity in publicly announcing his intent to mount a political challenge against Nigro for the General President’s job.

In addition to Nigro’s illegal motivation, we do not believe this trial can or will treat Kevin and Jimmy fairly.  There are just too many legal and constitutional defects in the manner in which this and all I.A. trial boards are conducted.  Collectively, these defects fatally inhibit fair I.A. trials.

The first legal defect is the ability of Joe Nigro to subvert the SMART tribunal system for his own personal and political purposes.  Nigro’s convening of an International Trial Board to hear these charges is a flagrant, politically inspired abuse of discretion by which he means to deny the defendants a fair trial.  Nigro’s illegal tactics and attacks are meant to end the personal and political challenges posed by Kevin Connors and Jimmy Cuiffo.

Nigro, via these charges, intends to exact political retribution on Kevin and Jimmy for their otherwise legal defiance of Nigro’s politics and his ill-conceived trusteeship of Local 28.  This is a show trial for Joe Nigro.  With this trial Nigro is pissing around his turf like a wild dog as a warning to all would-be political opponents during the Nigro regime.

The procedures and rules regarding trials are governed in large part by two Articles in the I.A. Constitution – Articles 17 and 18.  These articles basically provide two venues and or formats for the purpose of enabling a hearing of the allegations of wrong doing by one union member against another union member.

On the one hand, these two constitutional articles provide for a local union trial where a charged member may stand against his or her accuser before a specially elected local union trial board (or Executive Board) comprised of members of Local 28.  Under this scenario, the accused may challenge and remove a limited number of members of the trial board.  (SEE Art. 18)  Historically, all Local 28 trials have been conducted using this format.  A trial using this procedure would diffuse Nigro’s influence on the outcome of a trial.

Under the alternative trial format chosen here, Joe Nigro, as General President, has abused his unfettered discretion in order to deny Kevin and Jimmy the opportunity to stand and be judged before their peers – the members of Local 28.  (See Art.18, SEC. 1(d)).  Under this alternative trial format, Joe Nigro may convene an International Trial Board such as this one, and as a consequence, is free to infuse subtle and silent influence on the outcome of the trial through built-in institutional biases that favor Nigro and prejudice his defendants.

Kevin and Jimmy would proudly stand trial before the members they have been accused of betraying.  They do not believe, however, they can receive a fair trial in this venue where their accuser picks the charges, the type of trial, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, and the appeals judges, and leave defendants with no right to challenge any member of the trial board.  Such trials bring to mind the North Korean justice system – not the justice system of a free and democratic trade union.

The Nigro trial alternative chosen here requires an appellant to direct his appeal ONLY to the General Executive Council all of whom were originally appointed by Joe Nigro or his predecessors.  In the local union trial alternative, the first appeal of a trial outcome is to the membership of Local 28.  Not so in this Nigro alternative.

Thus Nigro hand picks the judge, the jury, and the prosecutor. All of whom are beholden to him for their positions and financial compensation.  Additionally, Nigro and the prerogatives of his office have actually staffed the entire I.A. appellate system of General Vice-Presidents.  All of these Nigro appellate appointees are handsomely compensated with perks, travel, per diems, expenses and full time salaries in excess of $50,000.00 per year, for part-time work.  Furthermore, the appellate panel enjoys rich pensions from a pension fund where Nigro sits as trustee.  Every defendant in every trial convened as an International Trial Board must face Nigro’s hand-picked appellate panel in order to win an appeal on the merits.

The ability of General President Nigro, as accuser, and his alter ego Bob DiOrio to stack the deck in favor of the accuser and against a defendant is outrageously unfair and should never be allowed to stand in any democratic organization.  On its face, this tribunal system as practiced by this I.A., violates not only the due process guarantees of the US Constitution and applicable federal law, it also violates the spirit and intent of the SMART Constitution.  Such power and unchecked discretion in the hands of a general president with ulterior motives lends itself to a general president’s unwarranted accretion and abuse of authority by means of political intimidation.  The specter of being the next Nigro political victim sitting on a trial docket waiting to face a hand-picked judge, jury, prosecutor, and appellate panel because the defendant chose not to politically genuflect before Joe Nigro would, be a bone chilling experience for any bona fide political opponent.

The second and most important practical and constitutional defect in this trial and all I.A trials is a defendant’s inability to prepare a defense.  Neither Cuiffo nor Connors have been adequately provided with copies or records or indicia of any of the evidence or witnesses that will be used here to prove guilt.  Unfair trials guarantee unfair justice.  This trial is patently unfair to Connors and Cuiffo as they could not adequately prepare a defense.  A reading of DiOrio’s charges is like reading code.  DiOrio’s written charges are deliberately brief and carefully non-specific as to the actual acts of misconduct.  As a result, DiOrio’s charges are conclusory and illusory making the preparation of a proper defense practically impossible.  Furthermore, the SMART Constitution makes no mention of a requirement on the part of the trial board or an accuser to affirmatively supply defendants with a full and honest disclosure of all the evidence that will be used against the defendants.  Nor does the constitution provide for unfettered access by defendants to independent evidence.  All evidence supplied to defendants in this case had to be pre-approved and screened by the accuser, DiOrio.  Union members should not have to overcome unfair I.A. trial procedures to obtain a fair trial.

The third built-in I.A. constitutional deficiency is the I.A. constitution’s failure to discuss in any realistic way, the necessary elements of a guilty verdict.  There is, for example, absolutely no mention anywhere in the constitution of a need to find the element of action and intent to do wrong in order to justifiably find a defendant guilty of an offense as charged. The first DiOrio charge here:  accuses Connors and Cuiffo of being responsible “by virtue of your office” for the inadequacies of a per diem system installed by the accuser, DiOrio. The second DiOrio charge here:  accuses Connors and Cuiffo of being responsible “by virtue of your office” for penny anti expenditures to a phone company on behalf of a former BA.  In doing so, DiOrio, shamelessly ignores his own proffered evidence and the real life fact that DiOrio, as 28 Trustee, also made the exact same expenditures and failed to collect the same expense money from the same Business Agent.

The third charge here, where DiOrio accuses Jimmy Cuiffo of “neglect” in the maintenance of membership meeting minutes is not an offense or charge within the meaning of the English language, the SMART Constitution or the applicable federal labor laws.  Standing alone, this charge tells the trial board nothing.  This charge only and implicitly states that DiOrio thinks he could have done a better job of keeping minutes than Jimmy Cuiffo.  Maybe DiOrio thinks he is a better speller?  In a democratic organization sloppy or negligent recording secretaries are simply voted out of office by a free and informed membership.  They are not charged with bogus offenses and removed from office, North Korea style, by an autocratic General President and his trucklers.

I.A. trial boards also have a sorry record of finding guilt in accused defendants where none exists.  In an apolitical or neutral environment, temporarily misplaced records would correctly be adjudged as an act of incompetence, inadvertence, accident or negligence.  A genuinely impartial tribunal would not and could not find in such conduct, a deliberate culpable offense against the spirit, or express content of the constitution and laws of the local or the I.A.

A fourth deficiency in the I.A. charges and trial format includes the fact that there is no necessary affirmation of truth telling.  There is no mention in the constitution of the consequences of perjury and there is no guiding constitutional discussion of monetary fines or limits or proportionality and relevance of a punishment to the nature of the offense. Recently, Jimmy Cuiffo, as part of this Nigro vendetta against 28, was fined $10,000.00 by a trial board similar to this one, because of an inadvertent delay in the reading of a Nigro email to the membership of 28.  That fine was political punishment and an irrational offense against common sense, justice, and the entire trade union movement.  It is a permanent stain of shame against Nigro and the I.A.  Nevertheless, Nigro thought it was a trial well done.  And he therefore promoted and appointed a key member of that trial board to the positions of I.A. General Vice-President where that new vice president now sits as a member of this trial’s appellate panel.

Fifth, the I.A. trial procedures as outlined in Articles 17 and 18 are also defective.  The membership and defendants are required to treat trial boards and appellate panels as divine oracles of justice in that there are no written records of the rationale and findings underlying verdicts, penalties and decisions of a trial board or appeal panels.  Furthermore, there is no mention of the standard of proof used to find guilt or innocence.  Is there even a presumption of innocence in an International Trial Board?  Must guilt be proven by the accuser or disproven by the accused?  Must guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt or by preponderance of the evidence or by clear and convincing evidence?  These trial boards are like the wild, wild West:  no legal standards and no good-guy sheriff.

Lastly, these trials are secret trials.  They are not open to public or membership scrutiny and criticism.  All members of the I.A. are prohibited admission to these secret proceedings.  There is even a constitutional prohibition against membership discussion of actual trials at union meetings.  (See Article 18, Sec 2(f)).  Additionally, there are no constitutional discussions whatsoever as to the procedures of a trial board.  Are questions of guilt and procedures found on a majority vote or a unanimous vote of a panel?  Who rules on question of procedure, admission of evidence, relevance of evidence, the panel, the secretary the chair?

Accordingly, we ask, in light of the foregoing institutional biases and deficiencies of this trial board, that this trial board recuse itself from hearing these charges.  We ask that you recuse yourself and defer these charges to a local trial board rather than take part in another episode of Nigro’s torching of Local 28.  In doing so, you may even be protecting your own local from being next on Nigro’s Nero-like list.

In the alternative, we ask that this panel loudly disprove the Nigro presumption that you have chosen to sit on this trial panel as willing accomplices.  We urge you to take advantage of this once in a lifetime individual opportunity to do justice.

We urge you during deliberations, to take in to account the built in biases, the motives, the prejudices and inadequacies of this trial and the I.A.’s totally inadequate system of charges and trials and then discount them all.  These trial failures are not your fault.  They are not your doing.  You can toss them out with the garbage.  We also ask that you judge harshly the presumptuousness of this accuser as he presents to you insulting, token-like evidence, so conclusory in nature as to be asking you to virtually perform the immoral legal equivalent of charging Jimmy Cuiffo, the elected Financial Secretary Treasurer of Local 28, with the status crime of being guilty of the offense of being the elected Financial Secretary Treasurer – with similar results for 28’s President/Business Manager, Kevin Connors.

In closing, we ask that you thoughtfully consider the gravity of the work of this particular trial board.  DiOrio has asked you to pervert U.S. law and the I.A. Constitution for political purposes.  We ask this trial board not to participate in this perversion.  You are being asked by DiOrio to find Connors and Cuiffo guilty of a status offense against the I.A. Constitution.  We ask that you be aware that DiOrio, in his written charges, does not allege even one act of misconduct as described under the misconduct of Article 17 or misconduct of the accused relating to their official duties as described in Article 13.  According to DiOrio’s written charges, Connors and Cuiffo are guilty of violations of Article 17 SEC 1(b), “…refusal or failure to perform any duty” SEC 1(i) “…embezzlement”, etc., SEC 1(m) engaging in “disreputable” conduct solely.because of and “…by virtue of their office”.  This is not an offense of Misconduct under Article 17.  This is a hideous status offense fabricated and concocted by DiOrio to dupe this panel and pervert U.S. law and our I.A. Constitution.

A gassed Jew in Nazi Germany was guilty of a status offense.

Black freemen hanged in Mississippi during the era of Jim Crow laws were guilty of a status offense.

The victims of 9/11 were guilty of a status offense.

DiOrio has not lied.  He has simply told a limited truth.  To complete his task, DiOrio needs this trial board to imagine misconduct.  Nowhere in DiOrio’s written charges has he stated the necessary specific acts of misconduct that underlie his charges against Connors and Cuiffo.  DiOrio is protected against a legal comeback.  Why is it his fault if a trial board has an active imagination and convicts a defendant on allegations and evidence not in in the record?  The carefully lawyered wording in DiOrio’s charges were also meant to legally protect the I.A.

But DiOrio does not mean to protect this trial board from the judgment of history or the rebuke of law.  DiOrio knows you are on your own in this mess.  He is counting on you to be either scammed into finding an offense or guilt where it doesn’t exist or to become his willing collaborator.  DiOrio is being paid blood money to obtain an unjust conviction of Connors and Cuiffo.  Keep your hands and your conscience clear of that money.  When you are finished here, there will be only one way to look your children in the eye tomorrow:  Tell DiOrio “No!”

Find Connors and Cuiffo not guilty.


Dan Wilton #355355



Show Trials

The I.A.’s show trials for Cuiffo and Connors have finished up today, June 2, 2014.  More later.