Hoffa Continues Philadelphia Trusteeship

Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters boss, James P. Hoffa, upheld May 31 the recommendation of an “impartial” three-member IBT panel to continue a trusteeship of Local 115 in Philadelphia. Hoffa imposed the trusteeship in Nov. 1999 based on allegations of abuse of members’ rights and local bosses failure to protect the union finances. John Morris, the local’s ex-boss intends to appeal the ruling to IBT’s general executive board (GEB).

Hoffa reviewed the panel’s report which it compiled after 11 days of hearing. Hoffa then adopted the following findings: 1) Local 115 routinely failed to provide members with copies of collective bargaining agreements; 2) members were intimidated and sometimes physically attacked by Morris’ “administration” to discourage political opposition; 3) the Morris “administration” obtained weapons, stun guns, pepper spray and military gear with union dues; 4) the Morris “administration” bought a building in Harrisburg, Pa., outside the local’s jurisdiction, with union dues; 5) Morris obtained cash payments from members, allegedly as Christmas gifts, which were collected by shop stewards who intimidated members into “contributing;” 5) Morris used union funds to pay premiums on his personal life insurance policy.

Hoffa said that an audit of the local “uncovered significant financial improprieties in addition to those previously set forth,” and that Morris’ conduct “merits discipline beyond merely removal from office.”

Morris served as an international vice-president for and was ally of disgraced ex-IBT boss Ron Carey.  He contends that he is unable to get a fair hearing from Hoffa because his local did not support Hoffa in his candidacy for president of the union. If Morris’ appeal fails at the GE, his next appeal is to the IBT convention in June 2001. Morris is pursuing federal litigation. Reportedly, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has a hearing scheduled for June 14 to determine whether trusteeship is proper.

In a related matter, Local 115’s trustee Ed Keyser said that within two weeks he plans to bring charges at the joint council level against Morris to permanently expel him from IBT. Keyser said the charges will be based on Morris’ abuse of members and of union funds.

Keyser plans to keep Local 115 in trusteeship “until we can get it back in order and turn it back to its members.” He intends to keep the trusteeship limited to the 18 months as called for in IBT’s constitution, but he added that it may take longer. [BNA 6/2/00]