Steel union officials replaced Probe will focus on local's finances

June 23, 1993|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

The administrator of Steelworkers union Local 2610 has appointed an interim president and treasurer to fill the positions of two officials who were removed recently after possible financial improprieties were discovered at the union.

The administrator, Harry Spedden, said yesterday that he had appointed Joseph Butler as president of the local and Sandra A. Wright as treasurer. Both are members of the local.

They will assume their positions tomorrow, filling the positions left vacant last week after the union international took over the local and removed the two officers.

Local 2610, with 2,300 members, is the largest union local at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point mill.

Mr. Spedden also said a two-person commission, formed by the United Steelworkers of America to investigate alleged financial irregularities at the local, is tentatively set to begin work July 1.

"It's best for everybody to get this done as quickly as possible," Mr. Spedden said.

Local 2610 was placed in administratorship last week after a union audit indicated possible overpayments to union officials for time lost from their regular jobs at Bethlehem Steel.

Those practices involved payments to union officials to compensate them for time they took off from their steel-mill jobs to conduct union business.

Mr. Spedden said some of the payments analyzed in the investigation were "not for lost time."

He said he did not have details of the alleged infractions but said many of the cases involved instances of a person working for the union while on vacation and later putting in for lost time.

After the takeover, the local's five top officers were removed. Mr. Spedden, subdistrict director for the Steelworkers' District 8, subsequently reinstated Tony Allen, vice president, and Robert Hamilton, the recording secretary, unconditionally.

Anthony Cantonzaro, the financial secretary, was reinstated temporarily to help with the daily finances of the local, Mr. Spedden said. A final determination on his position will be made later, he said.

Suspended from office were Walter Scott, president, and Walter Stankiwicz, treasurer. Attempts to reach the two for comment were unsuccessful.

Mr. Butler, the temporary president, has been active in the union local for 40 years and is a "pillar of integrity and hard work," Mr. Spedden said. Mr. Butler was traveling for a union seminar and could not be reached.

Ms. Wright, the interim treasurer, has worked at Sparrows Point for 16 years as a machinist.

In the past three years, she has served on union committees, although she has not held an elected position, she said.

Ms. Wright said yesterday that she did not know details of the union investigation, but she said she would "do whatever is necessary to make the union better and stronger."

Mr. Butler and Ms. Wright will work under Mr. Spedden's supervision. Their terms in office will depend on the outcome of the investigation.

"It could be weeks or six months," Mr. Spedden said, adding that the suspended officers could be reinstated "at any point in time after the commission makes its recommendation."

The commission will include a union official from the local Steelworkers district and another person from outside the district, Mr. Spedden said. There is no time limit on the commission's investigation before making its recommendations to the international executive board, he said.

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