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McCarthy selected to head Teamsters.

McCarthy selected to head Teamsters

Jackie Presser, who had led the Teamsters union since 1983, died July 9. Presser had been on leave from the presidency of the 1.6-million member union since early May, when declining health forced him to turn over his duties to secretary-treasurer Weldon Mathis.

Presser's death came in the midst of developments that promised to thoroughly test the leadership of William J. McCarthy, who was selected by the union's general executive board to complete the 3 remaining years of Presser's term of office. Prior to the closed meeting of the board, Mathis was generally expected to be selected for the job, but McCarthy prevailed by a reported 9-to-7 vote. One of the major issues that presumably influenced the selection was dissatisfaction of the union's leaders and rank-andfile members over the recently negotiated trucking contract which Mathis- with Presser's assent-had declared to be ratified, although almost two-thirds of the voting employees had opposed it. Mathis and Presser contended the action was permitted under the union's constitution. (See Monthly Labor Review, July 1988, pp. 39-40.) McCarthy, 69, a vice president of the union and leader of its New England Conference for more than 20 years, was among the union officials opposing Mathis' decision.

Another difficulty facing the union was a civil lawsuit filed by the Federal Government in late June. In the suit, filed under provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the Federal Government charged that "for decades . . . the IBT's [Teamsters] leadership had permitted La Cosa Nostra figures to dominate and corrupt important Teamsters locals, joint councils, and benefit funds." Named as defendants were Presser and the union's 17 top officials, along with 26 alleged organized crime figures. According to U.S. Attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani who filed the suit, the Government was using the anti-racketeering law to "take back the union from the Mafia," rather than "to take over the union."

Teamsters leader McCarthy, who was among those named in the suit, said there were a lot of "insinuations" against the union, but that he was confident "we will come out just as clear as we were [before the suit] and have been."

Other Labor leaders joined McCarthy in denouncing the Government's action, AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland called the suit a "clear abuse of the government's prosecutorial power." He contended that if the Justice Department has sufficient evidence that union officers have violated laws, it "should proceed against those individuals directly under laws which forbid convicted criminals from holding union office."

An early development in the case came in July when Federal Judge David Edelstein denied a Government request for the appointment of a liaison officer to oversee operation of the union. Judge Edelstein said that it would be imprudent to grant the Government's request until he hears further evidence at the trial, scheduled to begin February 27, 1989.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Oct 1, 1988
Previous Article:White-collar pay in nonservice industries, March 1988.
Next Article:New United Motors, UAW settlement.

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