Mobsters, Unions, and Feds

The Mafia and the American Labor Movement

320 pages

May, 2007

ISBN: 9780814742945

$26

Paper

Also available in

Author

James B. Jacobs, legal scholar and sociologist, is Warren E. Burger Professor of Law and Director, Center for Research in Crime and Justice, NYU School of Law. Among his books are Mobsters, Unions & Fed: The Mafia and the American Labor Movement, Gotham Unbound: How New York City Was Liberated from the Grip of Organized Crime, Busting the Mob: United States v. Cosa Nostra, and Corruption and Racketeering in the New York City Construction Industry, all published by NYU Press.

All books by James B. Jacobs

Nowhere in the world has organized crime infiltrated the labor movement as effectively as in the United States. Yet the government, the AFL-CIO, and the civil liberties community all but ignored the situation for most of the twentieth century. Since 1975, however, the FBI, Department of Justice, and the federal judiciary have relentlessly battled against labor racketeering, even in some of the nation's most powerful unions.

Mobsters, Unions, and Feds is the first book to document organized crime's exploitation of organized labor and the massive federal cleanup effort. A renowned criminologist who for twenty years has been assessing the government's attack on the Mafia, James B. Jacobs explains how Cosa Nostra families first gained a foothold in the labor movement, then consolidated their power through patronage, fraud, and violence and finally used this power to become part of the political and economic power structure of Twentieth century urban America.

Since FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's death in 1972, federal law enforcement has aggressively investigated and prosecuted labor racketeers, as well as utilized the civil remedies provided for by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute to impose long-term court-supervised remedial trusteeships on mobbed-up unions. There have been some impressive victories, including substantial progress toward liberating the four most racketeer-ridden national unions from the grip of organized crime, but victory cannot yet be claimed.

The only book to investigate how the mob has exploited the American labor movement, Mobsters, Unions, and Feds is the most comprehensive study to date of how labor racketeering evolved and how the government has finally resolved to eradicate it.

Reviews

  • “I am not aware of a book that covers the same ground as this one, let alone one that does so using such thorough research and with such technical competence.”

    —Anthony M. Gould, Université Laval

  • “Jacobs offers a history of the federal government's efforts to curb labor racketeering. The heart of his text focuses on the results achieved by employing Civil RICO suits to weed out organized crime from unions long mired in corruption. The Justice Department has mounted twenty such efforts since 1982, and Jacobs’s book is the first to provide a comprehensive assessment of this controversial tactic. He tackles this ambitious project with a combination of detailed research, clear writing, and judicious consideration, all of which have been a hallmark of his previous texts on corruption and organized crime. The result is a must read book for anyone interested in the problem of union corruption and what to do about it.”

    Industrial and Labor Relations Review

  • “For an understanding of RICO litigation against unions, Jacobs’s book is a good choice.”

    Law and History Review

  • “Jacobs, legal scholar and expert on the Mafia, sets out to show how the Mob has distorted American labor history, explaining the relationship between organized crime and organized labor, as well as recent federal efforts to clean up unions.”

    Booklist

  • “James Jacobs, a New York University law professor and author of Mobsters, Unions and Feds, says Mafiosi were hired by union organizers in the early twentieth century to combat company toughs. Now, he says, they specialize in ‘selling the rights of workers.’”

    USA Today