Cleveland's Killer Celebrities, Part 1
On the Waterfront
Greene called a strike and forced the stevedore companies to agree to a union-controlled hiring hall. He declared: "The hiring hall is a place where Irish kids can get a decent day's wages."
In practice, the hiring was right out of "On the Waterfront." Greene's supporters got the good assignments. Others got dirty jobs or none at all. Those who complained were beaten by goons.
By 1964, his members had had enough. Some of them got in touch with Sam Marshall of the Plain Dealer. The resulting nine-part series began:
A job shakedown on Cleveland's waterfront is forcing longshoremen to work thousands of hours without pay. Workers are being compelled to give up an estimated $30,000 or more a year, former officers of the International Longshoremen's Local 1317 told the Plain Dealer.
Greene scoffed that the complainers were "all dissidents." But the series quickly brought investigations by the U.S. attorney, the Internal Revenue Service, the Labor Department and the Cuyahoga County prosecutor.
It also emboldened the members: 92 of them signed a petition asking the International to remove Greene as president.
The ILA quickly sent a team that found, among other things, that Greene had failed to make payments to the union's welfare fund and had planted "bugs" throughout the union hall to record what members were saying about him.
The officials immediately stopped payment on all union checks and removed Greene from office.
Somebody went further: He fired shots into Greene's home when he was out but his wife was in the house.
Greene responded with a bitter letter of resignation. He listed his accomplishments pay raises, a new union office, the ouster of "winos" and drifters who were replaced with "decent men supporting families."
He declared: "After nearly four years of devoting all my energies to get the dock workers of Cleveland a fair shake, I now find my only compensation is headlines in the newspaper and bullets through my windows."
Greene was eventually convicted of embezzling $11,500 in union funds and two counts of falsifying records. An appeals court overturned the verdict and federal prosecutors settled for Greene's guilty plea of two misdemeanors involving union records. He was also fined $10,000.
Porrello notes: "Perhaps Danny was enjoying some protection from the FBI. He paid only a fraction of the fine and was never imprisoned."
Next: "The Luck of the Irish"