LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Two culinary union leaders, key figures in the longest and biggest strike in Nevada gaming history, put their careers on the line today in confrontations 3,000 miles apart.
The head of the international union has been subpoenaed to appear before a Senate subcommittee investigating organized crime. The chief negotiator for the Las Vegas culinary local faces a union election on the 44th day of a strike by culinary workers, bartenders, musicians and stagehands against two dozen Las Vegas gambling spas.
Recent federally mediated talks have brought no progress for 12,000 strikers maintaining picket lines in 100-degree desert heat.
International culinary president Ed Hanley, a behind-the-scenes power broker in the Las Vegas strike, must testify before the Permanent Senate Subcommittee on Investigations in Washington, D.C. Senators are exploring suspicions that culinary health and welfare funds are siphoned into organized crime coffers.
Hanley refused to answer most questions in an earlier subcommitee appearance and was expected to seek Fifth Amendment protection again if he appears before Sen. William Roth's committee.
Jeff McColl, chief labor negotiator in the strike that started April 2, seeks re-election as secretary-treasurer of the Local 226 in Las Vegas, the largest culinary local in the country.
A record turnout is predicted as four men seek to depose McColl including Ben Schmoutey, who was secretary-treasurer of the Las Vegas culinary union until 1981 when he was ousted by McColl. Both were aides to slain culinary boss Al Bramlet.
Bramlet was kidnapped, beaten, shot to death, mutilated and buried in a shallow desert grave in 1977, less than a year after leading the culinary union through a 16-day strike that closed down a dozen Las Vegas 'strip' hotel-casinos.
The murder was not related to the strike, according to the two confessed killers.
During Schmoutey's regime control of the multimillion-dollar Las Vegas culinary health and welfare fund was transferred to Hanley's international union. When control of the now-depleted fund became an issue early in the Las Vegas strike, national union leaders made it clear health and welfare money will remain under their jurisdiction.
Federally mediated negotiations that began more than a week ago have failed to break the strike deadlock. Management blames McColl for stalling progress until after the election and McColl accuses management of dragging out the strike until the union elects new officers on the chance he might be defeated.
On another front, police were told by a federal judge Monday to stop arresting strikers for walking pickets lines en masse. U.S. District Judge Roger Foley threw out a state temporary restraining order that restricted the number of pickets.
Sheriff John Moran, whose riot police have arrested almost 800 people since the strike started April 2, said in the future officers would arrest only those who committed criminal offenses. Moran said the struck hotels would have to pursue civil violations by strikers in view of the federal court edict.