The Newspaper Racket

Tough Guys and Wiseguys in the Truck Drivers Union

Last month, Lagan issued a leaflet under his own name, saying the union was ready to go to court. "We are going to trial. . . . I refuse to allow our union to be ruined by this unfair placement of a Czar over us."

Such sentiments are popular. "It's very unfair to blame my union on the actions of a few," says Paddy McDonald, a driver for 29 years. "I had no control over what LaChance was doing."

None of the NMDU's options appear enviable. Defending the case will be expensive, as will having a monitor. It has sunk from 3000 members in the 1990s to half that number today. Its current disclosure report shows a $400,000 deficit. In its most recent bargaining with the Times and the Daily News, negotiators had to ask publishers to pick up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees as part of their contract settlements. There's also dissent in its ranks in New Jersey, where Newark Star-Ledger drivers, citing poor union contracts and uncertainty over the racketeering case, are seeking to bolt the NMDU and join the Teamsters. Daily News drivers briefly considered the same thing last year.

None of those problems involve him, LaChance says.

"I drive my truck. What other job have I ever had besides waxing the warden's floor? Being a member of the NMDU is the best thing that ever happened to me. I love this business. It's been good to me. Whether I've been good to it, I'll let history decide."

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