Teamsters Congressional Hearings Continue

  • On Jun. 11, the court-appointed Teamsters Independent Review Board said it would “consider” investigating acting Teamsters President Tom Sever for refusing to conduct an internal probe of possible wrongdoing by top officials during Ron Carey’s administration who are still working at Teamsters HQ. IRB was responding to Rep. Hoekstra’s request for a probe into Sever. “If Mr. Sever is willfully ignoring the corruption and misuse of [Teamsters] assets and personnel, he should be held accountable,” said Hoekstra. [Detroit News 06/12/98]
  • On Jun. 15, Hoekstra subpoenaed Sever in an effort to obtain documents critical to the probe. He said the subpoena of makes Sever “personally accountable” to Congress for the release of documents that have been sought by the subcommittee since Feb. In May, Sever declined to tell the subcommittee why the union paid $250,000 to White House Counsel Charles F.C. Ruff when Ruff was a Teamsters attorney. He also refused to say why Ruff relayed $152,883 of that money to private investigator Jack Palladino, best known for containing President Clinton’s “bimbo eruptions” in the 1992 campaign. [Wash. Times 06/16/98]
  • On Jun. 17 before Hoekstra’s subcommittee, Alan Lebowitz of the Pension & Welfare Benefits Adminstration of the Labor Department acknowledged that the agency is investigating allegations that Carey manipulated a Teamsters pension plan to keep the union solvent and help him win the 1996 Teamsters election. There is no allegation yet that Teamsters officials took money from the pension fund, but the alleged accounting scheme provided the union with more money, some of which was used in the Carey campaign’s money-laundering scandal. Hoekstra said that department’s reporting forms “come up short” when it comes to providing rank-and-file union members with adequate information on how unions and pension funds manage and spend members money. [Detroit News & BNA Daily Labor Report 06/18/98].

Teamsters Election News

  • On Jun. 15, the coalition that elected Carey in 1996 was shattered. 2 Carey-slates have emerged one led by Tom Leedham of Portland, OR and the newly announced slate of John Metz of St. Louis. Leedham has the support of the powerful and liberal Teamsters for a Democratic Union, but Metz has key endorsements from leaders in Philadelphia and Boston, and he has acting President Sever on his slate [Newsday 06/16/98].
  • On Jun. 17, Carroll Haynes, president of the large Teamsters Local 237 in N.Y., endorsed James P. Hoffa for Teamsters president. It’s a surprising switch for Haynes who was a Carey running mate against Hoffa in 1996.
  • On Jun. 22, Judge Edelstein upheld a ruling allowing Hoffa to run for Teamsters president, but significantly increased the fine Hoffa’s campaign has to pay for accepting improperly-donated services from an employer during 1996. The fine is now $150,908. “Hoffa’s actions were a deliberate attempt to mislead [Teamsters] as to the source of his financial support and his employment of a felon on the campaign staff,” Edelstein said. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/25/98]
  • On Jun 24., an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the Teamsters committed an unfair labor practice when it fired a MI-based union organizer for his refusal to contribute money to Carey’s campaign. The judge order the union to reinstate Kenneth Daugherty and pay back wages and benefits for his firing in Jan. 1997. [Detroit News 06/25/98]

Victories for Employee Freedom

  • On Jun. 18, the Teamsters withdrew its request for a representation election at the Cleveland-area McDonalds where workers staged the first strike against the fast-food chain. The action came after franchise owner Jed Greene said 30% of workers at his 3 stores had expressed no interest in organizing. This is on the heels of Greene’s firing of union organizers Bryan Drapp, 19, and Jamal Nickens, 20, on Jun. 11 for coming to work with union slogans painted on their faces. According to a police report, the manager took pictures of them, which allegedly prompted Drapp to demand the film and threaten to break the camera over the manger’s head. Greene said the violence was “unacceptable” and said any behavior that puts employees or customers at risk is not tolerable. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/19/98]
  • On Jun. 24, Mechanics at Northwest Airlink in Memphis “decisively rejected a unionization drive” by the Teamsters. Among 90 eligible voters only 34 cast ballots for one of America’s most corrupt unions. The company is a regional subsidiary of Northwest Airlines. [Commercial Appeal 06/25/98]