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Charges against Teamsters resolved.

Charges against Teamsters resolved

A possible improvement in the 30-year contentious relationship between the Federal Government and the Teamsters occurred when the parties settled charges that the union was under the influence of organized crime. The resolution of the latest charges against the Teamsters occurred just before the scheduled start of a trial based on the union's alleged violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The settlement was "in large part" consistent with the Government's objectives, according to the U.S. Attorney General, and avoided the necessity of lengthy litigation. The accord barred persons allegedly involved in organized crime from participating in union activity, and brought the Teamsters "into the fold" without the need for a Federal Government takeover.

Some observers did not share the Attorney General's opinion. Labor attorney Theodore Kheel said the Teamsters had come out ahead, noting in particular that the union's 11 leaders who remained as defendants at the time of settlement will retain their jobs, contrary to the Government's initial objective of removing all officials originally named as defendants. (Prior to the settlement, some of the defendants gave up their jobs in return for withdrawal of the charges against them.)

Teamsters President William J. McCarthy will retain his post. He said he accepted the terms of the agreement reluctantly, because "it is not the vindication and exoneration Teamsters deserve. ...this suit should never have been filed in the first place."

The accord does not provide for appointment of a single official with broad powers to monitor the union's activities and take any corrective actions deemed necessary, which the Government had originally sought. Instead it provides for three persons, jointly selected by the parties and acting separately from each other, to temporarily oversee union activities and supervise the secret-ballot election of union officers by the rank-and-file membership. Currently, officers are elected by convention delegates selected by local unions or the locals' leaders.

One overseer, an investigator, will have subpoena powers, the authority to file charges regarding union elections and other activities, and the authority to present evidence at hearings.

Charges filed by the investigator will be decided by the second overseer, an administrator, who will also have authority to veto union spending, appointments, and contracts other than collective bargaining contracts. (The official, whose decision will be subject to review by the Federal District Court, will not have authority over the union's pension and health and welfare funds, which are managed by trustees.) After 1992, the official will only have the authority to resolve disputes resulting from the 1991 election of union leaders.

The third overseer, an elections officer, will supervise and certify the results of the union's 1991 and 1996 elections.

In 1992, a three-member permanent review board will be established to investigate and deal with corruption in the union, such as by removing officials from their jobs or by placing local unions under trusteeship. The Department of Justice and the Teamsters will each select one member of the board and the board members will then select the third member.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations; involvement with organized crime
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:May 1, 1989
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