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A federal judge in Brooklyn has struck what could be a crippling blow to Local 530, a building trade union that the judge said was founded and manipulated to benefit the criminal enterprise of the Genovese family. For years, Eastern District Judge John Gleeson said, the union had used non-union labor and extortion to steal work from Local 1974, a legitimate union of drywall “tapers” and “pointers” who finish interior walls constructed with gypsum wallboard, known as drywall. Gleeson said the practice had gone on long enough and needed to stop. In a sweeping injunction, the judge precluded Local 530 from engaging in any drywall finishing in New York City, except on the rare occasion when a contractor requests costly plaster work performed by one of Local 530′s plasterers. “I have thought carefully about whether today’s injunction, which may put Local 530 out of the drywall finishing business, ought to be stayed pending appeal,” the judge wrote in Local 1974 v. Local 530, 93-CV-0154. “Under ordinary circumstances, injunctive relief having such a profound effect ought generally, in my view, be subject to such a stay. However, I conclude that a stay is inappropriate here.” Gleeson laced his opinion with sharp language, calling Local 530 a “thoroughly corrupt union” that was founded “by gangsters for gangsters and the companies affiliated with them.” Although he expressed concern for the union’s members and their jobs, he said he had little doubt that they would be welcomed as members of Local 1974, “where they will no doubt be significantly better off.” The judge added that Local 530′s chances for success on appeal “strike me as slim at best.” He said, “Local 530′s victimization of Local 1974 and of the members of Local 530 itself has gone on far too long already. The relief I order today is overdue.” Daniel E. Clifton of Lewis, Greenwald, Clifton & Lewis, who represents Local 1974, said the judge’s ruling was a welcome turn in contentious and long-standing litigation. “I don’t know when I’ve seen such language in a judicial opinion,” Clifton said. “But anyone who is familiar with this case would say that he was being restrained.” The injunction replaces a previous injunction issued by Judge Eugene Nickerson. In 2002, Gleeson found Local 530 in contempt for violating that injunction. Clifton said that in February, the judge set the maximum damages for the contempt — including attorney fees — at $3.3 million. CRIME FAMILY CONNEcTIONS Local 530 was started in 1978 by organized crime associate Louis Moscatiello for the sole purpose of stealing drywall work from Local 1974, Gleeson said. Moscatiello last year pleaded guilty to various federal racketeering and bribery charges in the Southern District of New York. While Local 1974 workers finish walls with tape and layers of joint compound at their joints, Local 530 invented a process known as “skimcoating,” where a drywall is covered in broad stroke with a layer of joint compound and then wiped nearly clean, leaving a thin, even film. For years, Gleeson said, Local 530 — which was chartered by a plasterers union, not a drywall union — has raided actual drywall work and justified it by calling the work skimcoating. One characteristic of a skimcoated wall is its smoothness. Such walls will not show shadows when struck by strong natural lighting, nor will they show variations in color or sheen after painting. Except for high-end construction work that is rarely the subject of dispute among these two unions, skimcoating is not desired by architects or owners, Gleeson said. “They often have no idea what it is,” he said. The judge also said that skimcoating is just as easily applied by the drywall tapers of Local 1974. Therefore, he said, these two kinds of work are essentially one in the same, and Judge Nickerson’s decision to distinguish between them turned out to be a “mistake,” as evidenced by Local 530′s repeated violations of the injunction. “The purpose of the injunction entered today is to correct that mistake,” Gleeson said. The judge noted that the previous injunction did not succeed only because Local 530 was committed to making it fail. “Once the injunction purporting to carve out its lawful jurisdiction was issued, Local 530, in undiluted bad faith, disregarded, manipulated and distorted the terms of the injunction as necessary to defeat its essential purpose,” Gleeson wrote. “[Mr.] Moscatiello’s recent plea of guilty confirms what has been plain all along: Local 530 has never been a legitimate union, and has never been free of the grip of organized crime.” He added: “The injunction filed today brings renewed hope for the end of litigation that the Second Circuit described as ‘long and tortured’ 11 years ago.” Clifton said Local 1974 once had more than 1,200 members but now had closer to 450. Local 530, he said, had about 1,000 members. Local 530 was represented by Scott P. Trivella and Christopher A. Smith of Trivella, Forte & Smith. Neither attorney returned a call seeking comment.

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