Ties to LIFE 890
Tolentino recently attempted to replace the established union representing his employees (Teamsters Local 813) with a labor organization called LIFE 890 — the same independent union that has a contract with the Tristanis, and whose contract with the Bellinos continues to specify an $8.00/hour starting wage for waste workers.
The Teamsters recently filed charges against Tolentino and Planet Waste for providing “unlawful assistance and support” to LIFE 890, and Region 29 of the National Labor Relations Board found prima facie evidence to support these charges after extensive investigation. Tolentino and Teamsters Local 813 recently signed a settlement agreement under which Tolentino must notify employees that the company will refrain from threatening, punishing, or interrogating them about union activity.
LIFE 890 History
The secretary/treasurer of LIFE 890 is John Mongello, Jr. He, John Mongello, Sr., and several other officers of LIFE 890 were officers of Local 445 of the Laborers International Union (LIUNA) in the 1990s, and created the LIFE organization in a scheme to break away from the Laborers and renegotiate contracts with employers as an unaffiliated, “independent union.” In one case, the National Labor Relations Board determined that Mongello Jr. misled employees into believing that this proposed change was merely cosmetic.
The Mongello family runs LIFE 890 out of a Brooklyn brownstone, owned by John’s wife Kathleen Mongello through an LLC. Members of the Mongello family continue to draw substantial salary and rental income from LIFE 890 and its associated benefits plan. According to the most recently available IRS filings:
- John N. Mongello drew a salary of $197,708 from the LIFE benefits plan in 2014.
- The LIFE Benefits plan also paid $99,000 in occupancy costs, presumably for the use of the Brooklyn building owned by Kathy Mongello.
- Jessica Gambino, identified as Kathy Mongello’s daughter, also drew a salary of $72,000 from the benefits plan.
- John’s wife Kathy Mongello drew a salary of $13,381 from the benefits plan.
In 2014, the LIFE benefit plan reported that administrative expenses amounted to 37% of its total revenue — an amount far higher than typical 11-16% administrative costs and profits for commercial health plans as according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.