Hoffa Certified, But Delayed Again

Tom Leedham, the boss who lost the 1998 election for Teamsters president, is continuing his textbook example of electoral “sour grapes.” On. Feb. 23, the court-appointed election appeals masters Kenneth Conboy affirmed James P. Hoffa’s certification as Teamsters president, but Leedham, a Ron Carey-loyalist, was granted 14 days to appeal Conboy’s ruling to U.S. Dist. Judge David N. Edelstein. Leedham and allies have successfully kept Hoffa from taking control of the union for nearly three months after his election. Hoffa canceled his Mar. 6 inaugural in Washington, as well as Mar. 7 in Chicago and Mar. 13 in L.A. [Detroit News 2/25/99]

Texas Boss Disqualified from Office
All Teamsters officers elected in 1998 have been certified except one: James P. Hoffa slate member, James D. Potter of Texas, a vice-presidential candidate for the Southern Region. Potter was disqualified for breach of union election rules. He reportedly lied about breaking donation limits. Court-appointed election appeals master Kenneth Conboy overruled election overseer Michael G. Cherkasky and determined that there should be a new election in the Southern Region. Cherkasky wanted a new Southern Regional vice president appointed. Conboy wrote in his 24-page decision: “While it may be convenient to fill this open seat in an undemocratic manner — for instance by allowing the GEB to appoint an individual to fill the seat — this would undermine the purpose of the consent decree and further inflict undemocratic processes on the union that his been led for too long by unelected officials.” [BNA 2/25/99]

Hoekstra Committee Releases Report
On Feb. 24, Rep. Peter Hoekstra’s (R-Mich.) Education & Workforce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations issued a 221-page report on the corrupted 1996 Teamsters election. The report calls on the newly elected leadership under James P. Hoffa to take steps that could end the government’s 10-year oversight of the union.

The report said the Subcommittee “firmly believes that the solutions to the IBT’s problems must contemplate and work toward a union that governs itself, and not perpetuate the costly, uncomfortable and often combative relationship the union and the federal government now share while operating under the 1989 Consent Order. …After nearly 10 years of government oversight at the IBT, perhaps it is time for the federal government to evaluate the effectiveness of the consent order and whether there are better methods to address corruption in labor unions.”

Hoffa’s attorney Patrick J. Szymanski said the Hoffa administration already has planned to implement several of the subcommittee’s recommendations to adopt better financial controls, establish a budget process, tighten the auditing of officers’ expenses, and provide information to the membership on the financial status of the union. [BNA 2/25/99]

Kentucky Governor Appoints Favorable Judge
The campaign finance scandal surrounding Ky. Gov. Paul Patton that has led to the indictment of two local Teamsters bosses and two Patton aides, had an interesting wrinkle on Feb. 16. Retiring Ky. Supreme Court Justice Robert Stephens was appointed by Patton to be Ky. Secretary of Justice, a member of Patton’s cabinet. Although the move will decrease Stephen’s salary from $103,800 to $86,822, he will actually gross $167,822 annual due to his now payable $81,000 judicial retirement benefits. Thus, he comes out $64,022 ahead in the swap. What raises eyebrows is that fact that Stephens was the only justice who voted last summer to block the four Teamsters scandal indictments. [Courier-Journal 2/17/99]