House Probe of Teamsters, Ickes Moves Ahead

The House Education and the Workforce subcommittee began looking Oct. 6 into whether former U.S. Trade Rep. Mickey Kantor pressured a Cal. firm to settle a strike with the Teamsters in order to encourage campaign contributions from the union. Kantor, a long-time Clinton advisor, told a Rep. Peter Hoekstra’s (R-Mich) committee that a telephone call he made at the request of then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes to Diamond Walnut Grower’s former chief executive officer, William Cuff, didn’t involve pending campaign donations. The probe is looking into allegations that Ickes served as a conduit between the administration and Teamsters. Presently, Attorney Gen. Janet Reno is considering appointing an independent counsel to investigate Ickes. A decision is expected next month.

According to a memos written by former Teamsters boss William W. Hamilton, who has been separately indicted for his role in the Teamsters money-laundering schemes of 1996, Ickes told expelled President Ron Carey that the Clinton administration would intervene in a Teamsters strike against Diamond Walnut, and that he would personally ask Kantor to intercede. Hamilton wrote: “Ickes said he met face-to-face with Mickey Kantor last week and that Kantor agreed to use his discretionary authority to try to convince the CEO of that company that they should settle the dispute.” That was one of several Hamilton memos portraying the White House as eager to please the Teamsters before the 1996 election.

Diamond’s Cuff said “there was absolutely no explicit threat” in Kantor’s call. But, he said, “when you get a call from a senior official of the administration, you always have to be concerned.” That was particularly true when Diamond was also getting visits from the EPA, EEOC and OSHA and others. “All of a sudden,” Cuff said, “we started going through all kinds of visits and investigations.” Diamond’s facility in Stockton had by a Teamsters strike in 1991, which is on-going, but the company has hired permanent replacements. [Wash. Times & Sacramento Bee 10/7/98]

More Union Arrests in Florida
U.S. Customs has announced Oct. 1 the arrest of 7 more tied to an alleged drug-smuggling ring at Port Everglades. The arrests brings to the ongoing probe’s total to 29. Twenty-five of the arrested are dockworkers or security personnel. Eleven are Teamsters and 2 belong to the Int’l Longshoremen & Warehousemen Ass’n. [Journal of Commerce 10/2/98]