With its president, George Cashman, set to be tried for extortion on April 22, Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters Local 25 faces a revolt by Cambridge city workers seeking to form their own union. According to the dissidents, Local 25 has resorted to harassment and intimidation of those leading the effort.
The Local has been under federal investigation for years for allegedly extorting filmmakers in Massachusetts. A number of former local officials have already been convicted of defrauding the union’s pension fund, charges that Cashman also faces. Now, 220 of the 330 municipal employees of Cambridge have signed a petition asking for an election on forming a new union no longer under Local 25’s control.
The employees voted for Local 25 to represent them in 1999. But dissident leader Ron Baldasaro listed a number of local grievances against the Teamsters. Local 25 officials will not represent any employees fired by the city, resulting in newly hired workers who must then pay a $500 initiation fee. Cambridge workers also wonder why some of their dues are funneled to a “strike fund” when striking is illegal for public workers. The final straw for the employees came when Local 25 officials signed a contract with the city govt. after a negotiating committee of Cambridge workers voted to reject it.
Since asking for the vote, several dissidents have reported being harassed by Local 25 militants. Late last year, a workers with a heart infection was encircled in his car and harassed by three goons. Shortly afterward, the employee spent nine days in the hospital. An attorney representing the dissidents was confronted by five business agents who tried to shout him down. And Baldasaro says that he has seen a large number of cars slowly circling the cul-de-sac of his home, then peeling off. “Do I feel it’s intimidation? Yes,” Baldasaro said. [Cambridge Chronicle 4/9/03]