Dissenters within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for months have been accusing President James P. Hoffa, Jr. of planning to steal his bid for re-election this fall. But they’re not hesitating to point out that certain local officials loyal to Hoffa are trying to do the same thing in their own campaigns. Chicago’s Local 743, they argue, presents a flagrant example. Richard Berg, an activist with Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) challenging Hoffa’s loyalist incumbent Robert Walston for the presidency, says he was robbed – and that he’s got the documentation to prove it.
Evidence obtained by Berg’s attorney, Tom Geoghegan, purportedly shows that hundreds of ballots were bulk-mailed to addresses of employers, stewards and even a Russian bath house frequented by Walston. The phony ballots subsequently were marked and counted in the December 2004 election, giving Walston his margin of victory. “We knew the election was stolen from us,” said Berg. “But I don’t think we expected to get the black and white proof, and see how they did it.”
The leadership of the 12,000-member local already had been cited as corrupt by ex-Teamsters internal cleanup supervisor Ed Stier, who resigned in protest nearly two years ago. Berg’s New Leadership slate plans to make its presence felt at the IBT nominating convention in Las Vegas this June. Meanwhile, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, acting on member complaints, filed suit against the local hierarchy last August on grounds that it failed to “insure a fair election,” when seven insurgent candidates ran for office. Chao wants a federal judge in Chicago to order a new vote, this time to be supervised by the government. (www.tdu.org, 1/30; Crain’s Chicago Business, 8/18/05).