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Union Pressures New Jersey to Dissolve Corruption-Fighting Commission

Under pressure from union officials, New Jersey wants to pull out of a bistate commission charged with uncovering crime and corruption on New York Harbor’s waterfront, but New York has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene to prevent New Jersey from unilaterally ending the agreement.

There is a long history showing a connection between the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) and organized crime in New Jersey and New York. As recently as 2010, an ILA official, several shop stewards, and foreman were arrested for extorting money from union members on behalf of the Genovese Organized Crime Family.

Corruption and crime in the harbor led New York and New Jersey to create the Waterfront Commission, which investigates potential corruption and also oversees the hiring of dock workers.

But under pressure from the ILA, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who received the union’s endorsement, said he wants to unilaterally pull his state out of the agreement.

New York’s petition to the court says the commission’s work has prevented “the infiltration of the port by hundreds of people who were convicted of serious crimes…or who were members of, or associated with, known organized crime families.”  

Supreme Court justices will decide if New Jersey can break its agreement with New York on its own, or if both states must agree to dissolve the commission.

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.