Cleveland Local in Trusteeship; Boss Accused of Unauthorized Salary Increases

Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 244 in Cleveland has been under trusteeship since late last year after a report that its president may have embezzled the local’s money. Investigators for IBT’s court-supervised Independent Review Board reported in Oct. 2001 that Jarrell Williams apparently embezzled at least $3,300 by increasing his salary without approval of the local’s executive board, as required in its bylaws. The investigators also said that the executive board doesn’t have an active role and that Williams holds “incredible power.”

Richard Murray, an IRB investigator, said the IRB has not officially charged Williams with any wrongdoing. Rather, it recommended appointing a trustee to run the local’s affairs for up to 18 months and to root out any wrongdoing. “The report said basically the entire local is not being run properly; you’d better get someone in there,” Murray said.

In Nov. 2001, IBT president James P. Hoffa appointed Malcolm Mader, a business representative for the Ohio Conference of Teamsters, as trustee for Local 244. Mader hired Williams to work four days a week as a business agent during the trusteeship. Mader said IBT has since held its own hearing into the matter and will eventually decide what penalties to impose, if any. Those could range from letters of reprimand to permanent banishment from union activity.

According to the IRB report, Williams’ salary as president was supposed to have risen at the same rate as the wages of Cleveland garbage haulers: 3.5% in both 1999 and 2000. Instead, he reportedly received an 11.7% increase in 1999 and a 13.6% increase in 2000. It noted that one increase Williams took – of $550 a month – was equivalent to a car allowance he stopped getting after it was questioned by a IBT auditor. Williams told the IRB that the auditor instructed him to take the increase because his pay was too low. The auditor denies that, according to the report. The report said Williams’ salary rose to $80,541 in 2000, from $72,452 a year earlier. Additionally, he receives a second salary, $48,000 a year, as an organizer for the Ohio Conference of Teamsters, but that money was not a focus of the investigation.

Williams denounced the report as inaccurate. He expressed belief that union opponents had called investigators. He has run unopposed since becoming president in 1995, Williams said. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 2/8/02]