Still On the Waterfront

Long plagued by Johnny Friendlys, dockworkers fight to take back a mob-infested union

In 1970 he showed up to work one day and found that the pier had closed up on him. "I went home for a Thanksgiving weekend and the company moved out over the weekend to Brooklyn. There was a padlock on the door and nobody had any inkling."

He moved down to the piers along the Jersey City�Bayonne border. There he watched as little John DiGilio, the gangster, screamed at local president Donald Carson, who was big enough to be nicknamed Moose. Carson, Hanley said, would show up at the piers wearing camel's hair coats like those worn by Lee J. Cobb's character in the movie.

"I think he really thought he was Johnny Friendly," said Hanley.

The new longshoremen: Left to right, Manny Ferreras, Virgil Maldonado, and Tony Perlstein
photo: Nicholas Burnham
The new longshoremen: Left to right, Manny Ferreras, Virgil Maldonado, and Tony Perlstein

Today, Hanley could still pass for one of the hardworking grunts Kazan recruited off the docks as extras for the movie. He is a hefty six-footer with a broad, weather-ravaged face that has spent years looking into the sun and whipped by 45-mile-per-hour winds out on the uncovered piers.

When the hearings were being held in federal court in Manhattan on his local's trusteeship he went to watch the testimony. The union big shots were surprised. "They were shocked to see me," he said. "But it's my local. I wanted to see what was up."

Among the evidence the federal prosecutors showed to Judge Martin to demonstrate mob influence in the local was a series of transcripts of wiretapped conversations of the corrupt union officials and their mob handlers. In one January 2002 conversation, then local president John Timpanaro and Nick Furina, the Genovese family's enforcer, were heard nervously discussing Hanley's influence in the local. "Hanley," Furina was heard to say. "Don't worry about fucking Hanley. Tell him we'll do what the fuck we want."

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