Is organized crime involved with union affairs in New York City? Is the mob involved with their daily operations, work stoppages and protests?
I was in Manhattan last week, and while on my way to a meeting there was a big commotion with banging drums and a group chanting, “union…union…” across the street from the Omni Berkshire Hotel on 52nd and Madison. There was a 10-foot tall inflatable rat placed in the street directly in front of the hotel’s main entrance to imply the hotel’s management is rodent-like in their dealings with their particular union.
It was a small gathering, maybe 20 guys who looked like rugged dudes from Hollywood Central Casting, if there indeed was a call for longshoreman and construction workers. The guys were mostly standing around looking like rugged union members tend to look, while a couple of loud-mouths did the screaming into a distorted bullhorn.
And then I saw him, in the sea of ruggedness, there he was. We made eye contact, and I made him. He wasn’t rugged, and he wasn’t a loudmouth. He was standing behind the barricade next to the HVAC guys, looking like a leftover from a Soprano’s episode. He didn’t wear a well-worn paint-stained t-shirt like the rest of the guys, calloused hands or a weathered leathery skin from decades of working in the elements. No, he had perfectly combed, slicked-back hair, a designer sweater and gold chain around his neck. It wasn’t a Sir Mix-A-Lot rope chain, but it wasn’t purchased at Zale’s for $99.00 either.
He looked how “muscle” is supposed to look, or at least how it’s portrayed in the movies.
Could he have been there to protect the “interests” of someone or some group, or protect the union workers from being harassed by hotel security or a local beat cop? Maybe.
Could he have simply been the well-dressed son of one of the protesters hanging out in the middle of the afternoon showing solidarity and support for his dad’s union? Maybe.