Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Night Chill, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 The Longshoreman's Union Local 

[Copyright (c) 2012, John V. Tieso, All Rights Reserved]

Longshoreman's Hall, New Orleans. "So, Galanto's dead?" asked Jimmy Barnes, the Head Steward of the local, as he walked into the Union Hall. "Good riddance, I say," he added for emphasis. "He had a chip on his shoulder for everybody. Anything anybody asked him to do was always NO. He was afraid of the Feds, afraid of the owners, afraid of the Union National, afraid of everybody.”
“His standard answer was NO. Maybe now, we can get moving forward in this local.” Barnes was medium height, about five and a half feet, but with broad shoulders and large, well-worked hands. It was easy to see that he had been a longshoreman for many years. Several others in the room, all stewards, and all built like Barnes, murmured in assent, shaking their heads.
"When's the funeral gonna be?" asked one of the stewards.
"We don't know yet," answered the Secretary-Treasurer, Sonny Youssaf, "We are still waiting for the medical examiner to decide when to release the body. His family wants to do it quickly, though. Hopefully, they will release today, or tomorrow, at the latest.” Sonny was different from the others. He had very dark brown hair—almost black—and similarly dark brown eyes. He was tall, thin, with a muscular body, but looked to be an immigrant, perhaps Arab, as his name gave away.
"What do we do then?" asked another steward. "Do we have an election? Or, does Sonny get the job?" 
Sonny Youssaf was well liked in the union local. He started at the bottom-a lugger-when he was seventeen years old-a recent immigrant, who needed a job. Some of the older members remembered Sonny as a skinny kid, who tried, twice as hard as anyone else, to prove he could do any job they gave him on the docks. He had been a member now for nearly thirty years, and had earned the top job. The only question was whether National would approve.
"What about the Feds? How do they play in all this? I understand the FBI is already working with NOPD," asked yet another of the members present.
"The Feds have no jurisdiction, unless, of course, someone can prove some kind of Federal violation. They lost their control over us a year ago. We're clean, and they know it," offered Youssef. "They just want to make sure, that's all," he added.
"Sonny gets the job, at least temporarily," answered Barnes, "At least, until we have an election. Then, any member can run, if he wants."
"OK, then," said yet another of those in the room, "We don't have a problem. Let's get a big sendoff ready for Galanto.” They all nodded, and started to talk at once about the kind of funeral he ought to have. Many of the comments were not printable.

“This is Fred Kaiser, News Four, the Early News, reporting on the death of a New Orleans union leader. Last evening, during a parade along Bourbon Street, Jimmy Galanto, head of the Longshoreman’s Union was stabbed to death by so far unknown assailants.”
“There is no known motive for the killing. The Union is having its convention in the Big Easy this week, and they had their traditional parade in the Quarter yesterday afternoon and early evening.”
“Galanto is well-known for his defense of the Union while it was under Federal investigation, and took over the leadership of the local when his predecessor was indicted and sent to prison three years ago for embezzlement. Since that time, Galanto has worked tirelessly to clean up the image of the local here and succeeded last year in getting the Federal supervision terminated.”
“There is no comment from the family as yet. We assume there will be a sendoff parade, but we don’t know details at this point”
The NOPD had a press conference that just ended and the chief indicated clearly that this crime would be solved, and in short order. He has assigned a special unit to work the case, and they are being assisted by the local FBI office.”
“Jimmy Galanto will be remembered for his broad smile, flashy clothes, tough language, and as a person with heart of gold. He leaves a wife and four kids”
“This is Fred Kaiser, News Four.”

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