In the major metro areas like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, the only way most crane operators can get work is through a union, most commonly through the International Union of Operating Engineers.
According to Thomas Vairo, a crane operator who spent nine months at Ground Zero and has worked on several New York high rises, the Operating Engineers (IUOE) are keeping him out of their union, not because of his lack of skills but because of his family ties.
Now, according to the New York Daily News, Vairo is suing the IUOE in federal court.
The great-nephew of a legendary gangster immortalized in “Goodfellas” is suing the crane operators union for barring him from membership because of his family ties.
Thomas Vario comes from a long line of mobsters in the Luchese crime family — most notably his great-uncle, the late capo Paul (Paulie) Vario, who was played by Paul Sorvino in the classic film expertly slicing garlic in prison while cellmates cooked the tomato sauce and grilled steaks.
His uncles Peter (Jocko) Vario and Peter (Rugsy) Vario and father Peter A. Vario were all arrested by the feds, which has created something of an image problem for Thomas
He can’t even get an application to join Local 14-14B of the International Union of Operating Engineers because of his alleged “Italian connections,” his Brooklyn Federal Court suit says.
“It’s ridiculous,” Vario, 45, told the Daily News. “I’m not responsible for anyone’s sins but my own, and I don’t have any.”
Vairo’s lawyer is suing the union for his client’s acceptance as a member, as well as challenging the government’s alleged ethnic profiling of Italian-Americans.
“Someday Bernie Madoff’s grandson is going to get a job anywhere he wants,” Colleluori said. “Even John Dillinger’s descendants could get a union job.”
Note: It is unclear whether Mr. Vairo, at one time, belonged to IUOE, Local 15 (as opposed to Local 14, where he is trying to become a member), as Local 15 was one of the unions at Ground Zero.