Indicted Kentucky Bosses Fire Upstart Challengers

Teamsters Local 89 bosses fired four business agents and an office manager Sep. 14 in a shake-up that signals the biggest challenge to the local’s established leadership since it was founded 62 years ago. A fifth business agent resigned in support of those who were fired. The ousted officers are candidates on or supporters of a slate that seeks to unseat the current local president and executive board in a December election. “We were fired for announcing our intention to run,” said Fred Zuckerman, a business agent who announced his candidacy for the local’s presidency Sep. 9. Zuckerman said the firings are illegal under the Teamsters constitution and that he planned to file appeals to higher union bodies.

Zuckerman is challenging current president Robert Winstead, who succeeded to the office in Dec. 98 from the secretary-treasurer’s position. Ex-president Lon Fields retired a year early to give Winstead a year in the office before he had to run for reelection. Winstead and Fields are part of a dynasty in the local that stretches back to 1952 and includes a 14-year stint in the presidency by Winstead’s father, Marion, who retired in 1990. No dissident faction has ever successfully challenged the local’s leadership since the local was founded in 1937.

Fired with Zuckerman were Carolin Washburn who was office manager and bookkeeper for the local and who is a candidate for secretary-treasurer; Mike Fackler, a business agent and candidate for one of the local’s three trustee jobs; David Swift, a business agent and trustee candidate; and Avral Thompson, business agent and a supporter of the slate. Tim Thompson, another business agent who supports the slate, resigned in protest over the firings.

Besides Winstead, current top local leadership includes Bob Myers, secretary-treasurer; Gerald Shaw, vice president, Tom Trenaman; recording secretary; and John Wientjes, John Bolton and Gary Hug, all trustees. Hug is a son of Norman Hug, who succeeded Marion Winstead in the local’s presidency, just before Fields’ term.

Fields and Robert Winstead were indicted in September 1998 and charged with violating election law in the 1995 election of Ky. Gov. Paul Patton (D). The charges were dismissed in June, but the dismissal was appealed by Ky. Atty. Gen. Ben Chandler (D), and the case is pending before the Ky. Court of Appeals. Winstead, Shaw and Myers all appeared in this year’s “$100,000 Club” list, prepared by the far-left activist group, Teamsters for a Democratic Union. TDU uses the list to point out what it considers excessive compensation of Teamsters bosses. [Courier-J. 9/15/99]