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Non-Union and the Mob

A recent slew of corruption cases have civil agents concerned that organized crime has infiltrated New York's non-union construction industry


Something sinister seems to be happening in the world of non-union construction: mobster influence.

A former FBI agent, Bruce Mouw, who worked on the conviction of John Gotti, said that New York area mobsters have “found advantages by working with smaller, less policed non-union companies.”

He points to a string of recent corruption prosecutions as proof that the mob is targeting and influencing non-union contractors to enable them to steal from developers and from city and state agencies.

A new story in The City, a New York online periodical, offers analysis of what Mouw is seeing. The piece explains that the mob has chosen non-union contractors because, since they often employ untrained workers and have lengthy records of on-the-job abuse and wage theft, they are ripe for manipulation by nefarious interests.

In one case that was highlighted on Union-Built Matters, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged contractor JM3 Construction with manipulating government programs intended to promote women and minority-owned businesses, and with stealing more than $2 million, among a raft of other charges.

The mob has "found advantages by working with smaller, less policed non-union companies."

The City story implies that the mob was behind that scheme. They note that head of JM3, Lawrence Wecker, frequented the East Harlem clubhouse that had been owned by the late Genovese family kingpin Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno – a fact observed and noted by the FBI.

The article features investigation details to make its point:

During the investigation, prosecutors say, contractor Lawrence Wecker was overheard covering up injuries his employees suffered on the job. In one incident prosecutors cited in a court filing in support of the indictment, investigators intercepted a phone conversation in which Wecker was informed that a worker on a jobsite had broken his arm. “He don’t need no fucking doctor,” Wecker responded. “Let him sign in tomorrow…then at coffee time, take him out of the building…then when he goes to the hospital, he fell walking on the street.” 

Wecker has pleaded not guilty to charges of enterprise corruption, including underlying counts of conspiracy, money laundering, grand larceny and insurance fraud. 


JM3 head Lawrence Wecker seen outside his company office in East Harlem. He faces bribery and corruption charges. -- The Chief 

The mob/non-union connection is further revealed by a second case, also filed by Bragg’s office in January and also covered here. Non-union subcontractors working on seven high-rise projects in Manhattan, orchestrated an elaborate bid-rigging and kickback scheme through which they stole millions of dollars. The money was collected by Robert Baselice, an executive at the Firm, and much of it was funneled to Frank Camuso, a reputed captain in the Gambino crime family.

All of the participating contractors ran non-union construction businesses. Several of them are on record with the Department of Buildings and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for maintaining perilous job sites where bricks fell from buildings and workers were injured and killed due to unsafe work conditions.

In a third possibly mob-influenced case, the alleged boss of the Bonanno crime family, Michael Mancuso — on supervised release after serving 15 years for murder — was secretly recorded by an informant while he negotiated a scaffolding contract with a captain in the Colombo mob family.


Michael Baselice, left, is charged with running a bid-rigging scheme that defrauded developers and funneled money to reputed mob captain Frank Camuso, right.

In the recording, Mancuso is heard talking about non-union contractors, “They can play all kinds of games with their books.” He elaborated, “If it is a union company, then the union sends in auditors to audit the payrolls. The companies have to pay back the benefits that they owe. These non-union companies — forget about it.”

According to former agent Mouw, the apparent mob influence in New York’s non-union construction industry has been noted by the FBI. Mr. Mouw said, “[The mob is] getting back into construction, but it is all non-union.” He says that gangs have found advantages in the non-union sector because “they can pay half the hourly rate, no fringe benefits, and screw a bunch of guys who often can’t speak English.”

New Yorkers, spread the word, there is only one way to return integrity, safety, and top-shelf workmanship to this great city’s architecture: Insist on union labor for the construction of our buildings.


Defendants face charges of fraud and racketeering in a Manhattan courtroom. Lawrence Welker, the 82-year-old head of JM3 Construction is on the right.

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