Tom Leedham, the boss who lost the 1998 election for Teamsters president, is continuing his textbook example of electoral “sour grapes.” On. Feb. 23, the court-appointed election appeals masters Kenneth Conboy affirmed James P. Hoffa’s certification as Teamsters president, but Leedham, a Ron Carey-loyalist, was granted 14 days to appeal Conboy’s ruling to U.S. Dist. Judge David N. Edelstein. Leedham and allies have successfully kept Hoffa from taking control of the union for nearly three months after his election. Hoffa canceled his Mar. 6 inaugural in Washington, as well as Mar. 7 in Chicago and Mar. 13 in L.A. [Detroit News 2/25/99]
Texas Boss Disqualified from Office
All Teamsters officers elected in 1998 have been certified except one: James P. Hoffa slate member, James D. Potter of Texas, a vice-presidential candidate for the Southern Region. Potter was disqualified for breach of union election rules. He reportedly lied about breaking donation … Read More ➡
Federal labor racketeering investigators are looking into the possible misuse of $210 million worth of employee insurance contracts in the Broward Co. (Fla.) School Dist. After 30 months of apparent dormancy, the investigation is alive again with grand jury subpoenas delivered Feb. 12. The subpoenas requested minutes of the Superintendent’s Insurance Committee. A key member of that committee is Broward Teachers Union president Tony Gentile. [Sun-Sentinel 2/17/99]
Alternatively, the subpoenas may be targeting Fed. of Public Employees boss Walter “Buster” J. Browne. Brown heads a union the represents many non-teacher School Board employees and he is a member of the Insurance Committee. The union boss is also the ex-Port Everglades Commission chairman. Investigators have been looking into payment to Browne since Jan. 1992 from local shipping firms and two other unions: Dania Beach Am. Maritime Officers and Teamsters Local 769. Further, they’re interested in Browne’s influence on the Insurance Committee. … Read More ➡
Darren Fish, who lost a rerun election for president of AFSCME Local 494 in Pontiac, Ill., said Feb. 12 that the local’s parent union is investigating the rerun. In Dec., Fish and incumbent boss Danny Jarrett split the original vote for president with a third candidate. Fish and Jarrett were the top vote-getters and had a runoff two days later. Fish won the runoff 198-184. But on Jan. 13, Local 494 threw out the runoff results and set another for Feb. 11. Jarrett won the second runoff 250-228. Fish criticized the revote due to the fact that only 80 out of 750 members caused the second runoff. Fish also said questionable methods were used in the second runoff. A member “was telling new employees that I was no longer employed…, when really I was on vacation,” said Fish. [Pantagraph 2/13/99]… Read More ➡
A day after ex-member Jennifer Murray won a $750,000 jury verdict in sexual harassment suit against Int’l Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union Locals 19 and 98 in Seattle and others, she and her family were threatened. Murray says she received death threats Feb. 13 and her mother was cursed by Longshoremen at a restaurant. Murray is so terrified, she plans to move away with her two children. Murray’s stepfather, a lifelong union foreman won’t speak to her. “My (step)dad wants nothing to do with me because I sued. I am no longer his daughter,” Murray said.
In July 1996, two weeks after she had a baby, Murray claimed she was repeatedly molested by a fellow Longshoremen in the hold of a cargo ship. She protested each time the man thrust himself on her. Before that, she said she had been subjected to unsolicited sexual comments and harassment that included being stalked … Read More ➡
Ruth A. Niemeyer has filed suit in U.S. Dist. Court in Mass. against Laborers Int’l Union of No. Am., Mass. Laborers Council, LIUNA Local 243 and boss James M. Porter, alleging sexual favors were demanded in exchange for job placements. Niemeyer is seeking $2.5 million. The 36-count, 84-page suit, filed Feb. 1, is based on claims Niemeyer made to the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination. MCAD issued a probable cause ruling in Aug. on behalf of Niemeyer and an another member, Pamela J. Corey. “A probable cause ruling means there is merit to what they were claiming in the case,” said a MCAD official. Corey is considering a similar suit. Niemeyer’s suit says that between 1985-97 she was subjected to a continuing pattern and practice of gender discrimination, harassment and sexually abusive behavior. [Telegram & Gazette 2/24/99]
Ohio LIUNA Member Wins Dues Case
The Nat. Labor Relations Board ruled Feb. 23 … Read More ➡
The union world is abuzz with the amazing news that a dissident lawsuit has ousted one of America’s highest paid union bosses. AFL-CIO boss John J. Sweeney’s successor, Gus Benova was paid well over $400,000 a year to run the Service Employee Int’l Union Local 32B-32J. On Feb. 1, Benova ended his 18 year reign that began when Sweeney was elected to head SEIU in 1981. Benova has been dogged by allegations of a lavish lifestyle, authoritarian rule and possible mob ties, but his resignation came as part of a civil suit settlement brought by dissidents Carlos Guzman and Dominick Bentivgna. [N.Y. Times, N.Y. Post 2/2/99]
Top SEIU boss Andrew L. Stern — who himself has corruption questions stemming from his role in the Teamsters money-laundering scandal — imposed an indefinite trusteeship over the local. On Feb. 8, SEIU opened Benova’s union-funded SoHo penthouse to the media. The palatially high-tech … Read More ➡
A prominent Toronto boss was beaten Jan. 29 by four or five men armed with metal bars in a daylight attack that left him with a broken arm and a gash in his head. The victim was John Stefanini, the executive director of the Residential Alliance of Building Trade Unions and ex-boss of the Laborers Int’l Union of No. Am. Local 183. A witness said moaning outside his window turned into cries for help and that Stefanini’s “head was cracked right open.” Police are looking into labor-related motives. “It’s vigilantism at its best and we would like to have it stopped,” said a police detective.
Stefanini, who lost consciousness after the beating, later refused to speculate about the attack. “I prefer not to make any comment. There’s a police investigation and I’ll leave it to them,” he said. While at LIUNA, Stefanini was also the subject of violence. FBI informant … Read More ➡
San Antonio union boss Harold Flammia was sentenced Feb. 5 to 55 months in prison and ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution for looting a taxpayer-funded police association legal fund. Asst. U.S. Atty. Chris Gober termed Flammia’s crimes as “classic influence peddling” and “a profound breach of trust.” In May, Flammia pled guilty to one count of fraud and one count of money laundering.
Flammia’s kickback scheme started in 1988, when he became president of the San Antonio Police Officers Ass’n. He negotiated a city contract that included a clause that earmarked union dues and taxpayers funds for a legal fund to aide police officers. The city paid millions of dollars into the fund, which was managed by the Combined Law Enforcement Ass’n of Tex. Flammia was CLEAT’s treasurer and later was a regional director and board member. The boss solicited kickbacks from a CLEAT attorney and in return, Flammia … Read More ➡
Michael J. Gochis was convicted Feb. 2 by federal jury on three misdemeanor counts connected to his intimidation and physical assault of Teamster Local 505 member David Bothum. During a 1995 contract settlement, Bothum spoke against a proposal. His comments drew the ire of Gochis, who threatened Bothum. After one such exchange Gochis allegedly attacked Bothum from behind and threw him to the concrete floor warehouse, fracturing Bothum’s ribs. Gochis was acquitted of battery in 1998, but federal prosecutors later charged him with violating a federal labor statute forbidding intimidation of union members who voice their views on union business. Asst. U.S. Atty. Mark Vogel said the federal charges were brought after a key witness allegedly perjured himself in the battery trial. Gochis faces 3 years in prison. [Chicago Tribune 2/4/99]
Corrupt New Jersey Local Oversight to End
Court-appointed monitor Edwin H. Stier said Feb. 5 that the notorious Teamsters … Read More ➡
Atty. Gen. Janet Reno controversially chose not to appoint an independent counsel Jan. 29 to probe possible illegal acts by ex-Clinton aide Harold M. Ickes on behalf of the Teamsters. Ickes, the Clinton Adminstration’s DNC liaison in 1996, is also a longtime union attorney whose clients have had severe corruption problems. The probe would have focused on charges of perjury and campaign finance abuses. Before the Senate’s 1997 Thompson Committee, Ickes vigorously denied that the Clinton Adminstration helped the Teamsters in a dispute with Diamond Walnut Growers. But the Committee later uncovered union memos stating Ickes had urged then-U.S. Trade Rep. Mickey Kantor to intervene, and Ickes’ aide testified that Ickes told her to make sure Kantor followed through. [A.P. 1/29/99]
Hoffa Still Not in Control
Ron Carey-loyalist, Tom Leedham, who failed in his bid to be Teamsters president last year, filed the latest review request Feb. 2 of president-elect … Read More ➡