Labor Secretary Ray Marshall challenged a Justice Department position yesterday that labor racketeering is increasing.
"It's easy to walk down an alley, see a rat, and say, "There's a million rats, and there goes one of them," Marshall told the Senate Permanent investigations subcommittee. "I've not seen the evidence that is compelling to me that the problem is more pervasive than it was 20 years ago."
He assured the subcommittee that his department is fully committed to the fight against organized crime activity in the labor movement. Several top attorneys with Justice Department's organized crime strike forces testified before the panel Monday that racketeering is increasing, two decades after a Senate committee held widely publicized hearings on the Subject.
The lawyers complained there aren't enough Labor Department investigators assigned to the strike forces.
Marshall told the subcommittee his department spends more time investigating civil cases, such as suspected pension law violations, than it does in criminal cases. He also said antagonism between the Labor Department and Justice Department has frustrated efforts to get at racketeers.
But he said he and Attorney General Griffin B. Bell have an agreement on how the two departments will cooperate in the future. He said investigators will be assigned full time to each of 15 strike forces and the Labor Departmant will seek money for additional investigators to be made available to strike forces as neededC.
Marshall also said the racketeering problem will not be solved only be sending organized criminal to jail, because there will always be others to take their places.
"We need to work out a program that strikes at the root causes" of organized crime's influence in the labor movemen, he said.