The Waterfront Commission held a hearing into mob influence along the docks today. But some of the scenes could have ripped from newsreel footage of the commission’s 1950’s heyday, right up to that old standard: "On advice from my counsel, I hereby assert my privilege against self-incrimination under the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution."
It was among the highlights of the first day of public hearings following a scathing Inspector General’s report last year finding that the commission’s former leadership was "a sanctuary of political favoritism, corruption and abuse."
Aulisi is the son of a former International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1235 president, Vincent Aulisi, who commission officials say installed his son in a no-show job as a checker, or dockside clerk, at the APM terminal in Elizabeth. On a projection screen in the crowded hearing room, commission officials showed photographs of the son barbecuing and riding a lawnmower while he was scheduled to work. The commission eventually barred Aulisi from working on the waterfront for associating with Coppola.
"Isn’t it true that you had a no-show job at APM?" Demeri asked Aulisi.
""On advice from my counsel, I hereby assert my privilege against self-incrimination," he replied, repeating that same response, word-for-word a half dozen times in response to a half-dozen questions.
Testimony from Joseph Curto, president of the New York Shipping Association, a trade group, detailed labor practices codified in bargaining agreements between stevedoring companies and the longshoremen’s union. The commission officials say the practices allow for and even encourage excessive pay for little or no work, depending on the position.
lesniak-waterfront-commission.jpgNoah K. Murray/The Star-LedgerN.J. State Sen. Ray Lesniak seen on the floor of the Senate session before a vote is cast for his affordable housing bill in June.
For example, a relief checker, Eddie Aulisi’s typical job title, is paid whether or not he is providing relief, and is not required to be on-site even during the loading or unloading job he is assigned to.
Another industry official, Richard Carthas, senior director of terminal operations for APM, Aulisi’s former employer, acknowledged that he had fired other longshoremen for infractions like excessive sick days or attitude problems yet kept Aulisi on his payroll despite knowing he rarely, if ever, worked.
And people wonder why it's so expensive to work a ship in New York/NJ ports?
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