STAFFERS and union organizers say ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania has hired a New York firm with a troubled past to hold mandatory anti-union meetings at ASPIRA's Olney Charter High School.
Teachers at Olney Charter are to vote tomorrow on whether to form a union with the Alliance of Charter School Employees, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
Randy McCarthy and Andrew Gallin of National Consultants Associated Ltd. held several hours of meetings with staffers at the North Philadelphia school in recent days, including three meetings yesterday. Attendees called the meetings "anti-union" and questioned their timing during a critical period before Keystone Exams and the school's senior projects.
Efforts by the Daily News since Friday to reach McCarthy, Gallin and National Consultants Associated have been unsuccessful. No one answered the phone at three numbers listed for the company, and the firm appears to have no website.
Chris Bishop, an algebra teacher at the school, said he was among several teachers unnerved by the meetings being held ahead of the union vote.
"Bringing in any company is inappropriate, since they [ASPIRA] publicly said they'd remain neutral," he said. "But bringing in someone with these unseemly ties . . . just adds to the inappropriateness."
Randy McCarthy has not been charged with a crime, but it is not hard to find references to his family's alleged ties to organized crime.
For example, in May 2007, the Village Voice called his father, Jack McCarthy, "a convicted labor racketeer and veteran Genovese associate." And in June 2009, the New York Post called his brother Glenn McCarthy "a federally convicted union fraudster" and a "Genovese crime-family associate" who pleaded guilty to labor conspiracy in May 2002 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Jack McCarthy, who founded National Consultants Associated, "was pursued for decades on racketeering charges" by investigators for the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department who called him a Genovese crime-family labor expert, according to Newsday. He was imprisoned four times and died in 1990, the newspaper reported in 1993.
In 1966, a U.S. Senate committee said that Jack McCarthy controlled seven union locals, including Teamsters Local 966. The Senate Committee on Government Operations' permanent subcommittee on investigations held hearings that year probing activities of National Consultants Associated and "[Jack] McCarthy's alleged improper activities in representing management in labor negotiations with unions he dominated or controlled, and in allegedly engaging in a variety of financial practices involving conflict of interest, misuse of union funds, and tax evasion."
"The McCarthy family's domination of Local 966 went unchallenged for decades," Newsday reported in 1998 when a federal judge issued a decision breaking the family's grip on the union. Jack McCarthy and his friends, colleagues and relatives benefited from Local 966's pension and welfare funds that should have gone to union members, District Judge Harold Baer Jr. said in the 1998 decision.
Union fliers criticizing ASPIRA for using taxpayer money to hire National Consultants Associated have been posted throughout Olney Charter in recent days. They ask: "Do Andy and Randy Belong in Our School?" and "Did ASPIRA complete a background check on Andy and Randy?"
"The record speaks for itself," Ted Kirsch, president of the AFT of Pennsylvania, told the Daily News, referring to McCarthy's father and brother. "They were racketeers. They were convicted. What do they have to do with public-school kids?"
But Thomas Darden, chief operating officer of ASPIRA, said Randy McCarthy has no ties to his father's activities. Darden told the Daily News that McCarthy and Gallin "have never been charged with any wrongdoing or illegal activities" and are being unfairly characterized by union activists.
"Any effort to link them to prior unrelated charges and activities concerning Jack McCarthy is an unfortunate attempt to deflect attention from the very real and important facts related to the upcoming union election at Olney Charter High School," Darden told the People Paper in an email.
"ASPIRA, as permitted by the [National Labor Relations Act], will continue to provide our staff with access to information that will help them make an informed decision."
Darden declined to say whether ASPIRA had done a background check on the firm.
In emails last week to the Olney staff, ASPIRA school board president Frederick Ramirez wrote that the union "appears to be focusing on who we hired as consultants rather than on the facts the consultants are giving you."