Teamsters Notebook


I thought the government’s case against Ron Carey could not possibly get any phonier, but I was wrong. On Feb. 5, government prosecutors wrote Carey’s lawyers that Jere Nash, the key witness against Carey, recently confessed that he defrauded the union using a billings scam.

“Nash acknowledged that, when previously questioned by the government regarding these expenses, he intentionally withheld information about the scheme, and falsely denied any role in the billing of expenses.”

The letter also stated, “I am bringing this to your attention in connection with your pending appeals of Mr. Carey’s … discipline by the Independent Review Board.”

Nash, Carey’s professional campaign manager in 1996, provided the principal “evidence” against Carey. Nash claimed that in a phone call lasting only a very few minutes he had informed Carey that he intended to raise donations for the Carey Slate election campaign from political advocacy groups (such as the National Council of Senior Citizens) that the Teamsters had helped financially.

The court-appointed election officer barred Carey from the 1998 rerun election, and then the so-called Independent Review Board ousted Carey from the union, even though the board admitted that there was no evidence that Carey knew about the money-laundering scheme.

In short, Nash was stealing from the union prior to his money-swapping scheme, and then lied about it while he cut a deal with the government in exchange for his testimony implicating Carey. Nash’s latest confession would reduce Nash’s credibility to zero with probably all juries-and Carey would walk away vindicated.

But Carey can’t appeal to a jury. He must appeal to judges who already upheld his removal from the election, even though they said that other judges looking at the same evidence might not have barred Carey!

I have previously written that the Hoffa faction will control all facets of the 2001 election. I have since learned that, under the Consent Decree, the U.S. Labor Department has the option of monitoring that election. The Labor Department (at its expense) may choose to monitor only the vote count, or it may monitor the election as extensively as it did the previous election officers.

Moreover, I was startled to learn that Michael Cherkasky, a former prosecutor and the present Election Officer, has been pushing a so-called theory of “accretion.” I understand Cherkasky is claiming that the Consent Decree permits the government to increase (accrete) its permanent rights over the union, simply due to the precedent set by the government’s actions up to this point.

If so, it’s unclear when or if ever the union will be free of federal rule over its international union elections. Which means that the government could continue indefinitely to set aside election results and bar candidates, as it did Ron Carey.

Of course, if the Feds choose not to exercise their authority over the election procedures, then the rank and file will still face an uphill fight to get a fair election from the union’s entrenched bureaucracy, which has opposed majority rule on contracts, rank-and-file delegate elections, and unionwide elections.

United Parcel Service (UPS) is welching on its word to 280,000 Teamsters to provide 2000 new full-time jobs a year for five years, following the 1997 national strike.

One Chicago local union struck UPS over the supervisors doing bargaining unit work. But the rest of the union has spurned job actions that exact a price, choosing instead to file a grievance.

Now the ranks are awaiting an arbitrator’s decision due in the spring. Wall Street analysts predict that UPS “will post all-time revenue approaching $26 billion this year.”

The Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) reports that Hoffa Jr. has selected the next head of the union’s Parcel Division, which includes the UPS workers. TDU says that Hoffa’s choice, Dick Heck, is “notoriously pro-management. He refused to participate in the Feb. 7, 1994, over-70 lbs. strike. During the UPS negotiations in 1997 he was an anti-strike voice on the national committee.”

Traffic World, a corporate publication, reports that when a trucking boss heard that it took two elections at a price tag of $25 million to get Hoffa Jr. into office, the boss snorted, “I think we could have gotten him a lot cheaper.”

Hoffa’s election is a setback for militants and labor activists, but it doesn’t mean that the bureaucracy will be able to turn the clock fully back to where it was before Carey’s 1991 election.

For one thing, there will not be a return to requiring a two-thirds vote to reject a contract. That means that national rank-and-file campaigns to reject concessionary contracts will once again be major events inside the union.

And the officialdom will not be able to abolish the international union elections. That means that militants and reformers will have a chance to rally the ranks like Carey and TDU did in 1991 and defeat the Hoffa faction.

Of course, the officialdom will try to make up for lost time. For example, a California Teamster paper reports that “Vice-President Mack will continue to preside over Local 70 and Joint Council 7, dividing his responsibilities between Northern California and Washington, D.C.”

The paper didn’t report that Mack will also continue to find enough time to serve as an official of the Teamsters western multibillion-dollar pension fund.

Some hardworking Teamsters might ask how Mack can handle all that work, seeing that there’s only 24 hours in a day. But far fewer Teamsters will be asking why Mack wants to collect more than one paycheck, even in his enviable tax bracket.

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