Fired Business Agents Sue Kentucky Boss

A group of ex-Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 89 staffers in Ky., filed suit Oct. 13 against local president, Bob Winstead, saying he violated their labor contracts when he fired them. Winstead, who is up for reelection in Dec., fired business agents Fred Zuckerman, David Swift, Mike Fackler and Avral Thompson and office manager Carolin Washburn on Sep. 14, after all but Thompson announced plans to run for union office. Local 89 is Kentucky’s biggest union local.

Those fired are members of the Local 89 Business Agents and Office/Clerical Ass’n, which the local has recognized as bargaining agent for business agents and clerical personnel (i.e., it’s the union’s union). The fired staffers say in their complaint that Winstead fired them wrongfully, that he refused to pay them salary and other benefits owed when they were fired, and that he forced pledges from the business agents for $800 each in contributions to his own campaign.

The suit also alleges that Winstead, via an intermediary, offered to rehire Washburn, Swift and Thompson in Jan. 2000 if they would drop plans to run for union office.  It charged that Winstead falsely spread accusations that Zuckerman caused a fight between Local 89 members James Willis and Trenton Vincent on a picket line Zuckerman and supporters set up outside the Local 89 union hall the day of the firings. Local 89’s attorney, Al Priddy called the suit groundless.

Zuckerman is a candidate for president of the local, one of two men challenging Winstead. Washburn is a candidate for secretary-treasurer. Fackler and Swift are candidates for trustee. [Courier-J. 10/14/99]