Carpenters Union Bolt AFL-CIO

In a sharp slap in the face to AFL-CIO bosses John J. Sweeney and Richard L. Trumka the United Bhd. of Carpenters pulled out of the federation on Mar. 29. A continued affiliation with AFL-CIO not only was a distraction for UBC, said UBC boss Douglas J. McCarron, but an impediment. McCarron said UBC needs flexibility to work with both parties, he said, noting that “a lot of our members are Republicans.”

McCarron had been threatening to break away for more than two years. He has told AFL-CIO leaders and his members that Sweeney is wasting carpenters’ dues money on a bureaucracy of hundreds of officials that AFL-CIO has hired since Sweeney and Trumka took over in 1995. In a strong letter to Sweeney, McCarron wrote: “After five years I have seen nothing to indicate the AFL-CIO is seriously considering changes that would cure [Sweeney’s inability to make fundamental changes], nor do I see any realistic chance that an investment of more time or resources by the UBC will alter those facts. And for that reason [UBC] has voted unanimously to end our affiliation with the AFL-CIO.”

UBC’s departure is a financial blow to the scandal-scared AFL-CIO. While its dues amount to just $3 million a year in AFL-CIO’s $100 million-plus annual budget, the AFL-CIO spends every penny of it. Reportedly, Sweeney and Trumka have even drawn down the federation’s reserves in recent years. On Mar. 27, Sweeney and Trumka pled with UBC’s executive board in a last-ditch effort to halt a breakup vote. But they failed to change any minds and the eight-member board. [ 3/29/01; BNA 3/30/01]

IBT Gets Second $500,000 from AFL-CIO
According to the Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters’ own media release, the scandal-scared AFL-CIO “contributed” a second $500,000 to IBT to aid IBT’s strike against Overnite Transp. that started in Oct. 1999. [IBT Media Release 3/26/01]  The $500,000 is suspect. In Apr. 2000, IBT filed a racketeering suit seeking $9 million in damages against indicted ex-boss Ron Carey and others tied to IBT’s money-laundering scandal, but not AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard L. Trumka. His absence is troubling given AFL-CIO’s $1 million in “contributions.” Trumka allegedly helped route $150,000 from IBT to Carey’s campaign and wrongfully contributed $50,000 to Carey’s campaign.

“[Ex-]Atty. Gen. Janet Reno refused to take [the Teamsters money-laundering scandal] allegations seriously, and turned [a] blind eye. . . Now, with [ex-boss Ron] Carey under indictment, and the various alleged schemes threatened with judicial exposure, prosecutors can ask some pointed questions of individuals such as AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes. . . .

Carey operated in close harmony with Democratic officials and the AFL-CIO, and the White House and Justice Department did their best to keep a lid on subsequent inquiries. In the Clinton impeachment crisis, the public was not very engaged by what seemed arcane features of federal election law. But now that Bill Clinton and Janet Reno are out of office, and Ron Carey is under indictment, perhaps the fragments of this scandal can be pieced together.”

– Providence Journal-Bulletin, Editorial, Mar. 18, 2001.