(en) Gov't Tightens Control of Teamsters

Aaron (aaron@burn.ucsd.edu)
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 23:13:36 -0500

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While I don't agree with certain aspects of the following article -- particularly the uncritical adulation of Ron Carey -- I think it makes valuable points about what the capitalist state is up to. But I'd like to add a few points of my own.

* Those who supported previous state interventions in the Teamsters and in other unions in order to get rid of the bad guys certainly share responsibility for the vulnerability of the Teamsters to the present attack.

* It is a violation of workers' democracy for the leadership of a workers' organization to use the resources of that organization against its opponents inside the organization. But this is a matter to be handled within the class, and not in collaboration with the class enemy.

* The need for large amounts of money to run a campaign for national leadership of the Teamsters is a direct result of the phony democratic reform of direct elections for national officers. That need opens up the campaigns to the influence of money, i.e., the bourgeoisie. In this case that class appears in the form of the Democratic party.

For those who want to build class-conscious leadership in the unions, it is far better to struggle for democratic local selection of delegates to a convention that decides policy and elects the national leadership.

- Solidarity, - Aaron

>Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 01:19:22 -0500 EST

------------------------- Via Workers World News Service Reprinted from the December 4, 1997 issue of Workers World newspaper -------------------------


UPS Strike Leader Carey Framed in Move to Break Union

By Shelley Ettinger

The United States government escalated its dirty war against the labor movement Nov. 24 when it swept in and took virtually full power over the Teamsters union's finances and internal affairs.

This appalling move lifts the capitalist class's campaign to quash labor's revival to ominous heights.

The office of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Mary Jo White announced the new intervention at a Nov. 24 news conference. A so-called Independent Financial Auditor will have full authority to approve or reject any and all Teamster financial transactions except routine expenditures like salaries, and all contracts except collective-bargaining agreements.

Everything else--organizing campaigns, hiring and so on--is subject to the auditor's approval.

And who did White appoint as auditor? One Marvin M. Levy of the KPMG Peat Marwick accounting and law firm. Levy's most recent post was as a senior analyst for the FBI.

Levy will undoubtedly work closely with former FBI and CIA Director William Webster, who runs the government's "Independent Review Board" that sits over the Teamsters.

Teamsters General Counsel Earl V. Brown Jr. signed the "interim agreement" assenting to Levy's placement and committing the union to pay his salary. As Workers World goes to press, it is not known whether Teamsters President Ron Carey or the Executive Council approved the agreement.

However, on Nov. 25, President Carey took a "temporary, unpaid leave of absence, effective immediately."

In a letter to Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Sever, Carey called the Nov. 17 decision to disqualify him from the re-run presidential election next spring "demonstrably wrong and unfair." He said, "I totally reject the allegations that I knew of any attempts to violate the Election Rules in my 1996 campaign."

Carey said he is someone "who has stood for integrity all his life, and has not yet had his day in court."

Nevertheless, he said, "In spite of this injustice, I believe it in the best interest of the membership and the reform movement that I remove myself from IBT decision making while I fight my appeal."


Some six hundred rank-and-file Teamsters had greeted Carey with repeated standing ovations when he addressed the Teamsters for a Democratic Union convention in Cleveland Nov. 22.

Over and over, TDU members interrupted Carey's speech with chants of "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

In his talk, Carey spoke of "the union fight against corporations and corporate greed."

Then he said, "Now there is a new challenge."

Carey said he will fight Election Appeals Master Judge Kenneth Conboy's Nov. 17 ruling disqualifying him from a re- run presidential election. He said, "I want to look around this room and look into everyone's eyes and tell you that that decision was dead wrong."

Workers World Cleveland correspondent Martha Grevatt reports that a sizable contingent of United Parcel Service workers, among them many women and people of color, attended the TDU gathering. These workers were in an upbeat mood despite the capitalist class's current efforts to crush the union.

Carey said of the UPS strike: "Part-time and full-time, together like never before. You see the results. ...

"We won the biggest victory in our lifetime--a victory that has inspired working people around the world. ...

"That is Teamster power! We've built a union that stands up to corporate greed, that gives members the power they need.

"They [the bosses] don't want a labor movement that fights back. You know it, I know it, and they know it."

Referring to talk of his "legacy," Carey said: "Some of that sounded like an epitaph. This guy ain't gone!"


Carey said "the outcome of my appeal will be in the judge's hands." He added that he is confident a reform slate will win the election, "whether it's me on top or someone else."

As a responsible labor leader, he was trying to prepare the membership for all contingencies. However, what labor really needs now is a fight to overturn Carey's ouster.

That is the best way to strengthen the Teamsters--especially since negotiations for a national freight agreement and at Anheuser Busch loom--and all the unions.

If the government's attempt to quash Teamster power and punish the union for the UPS strike meets active resistance--if the Teamsters and all of organized labor reject the Carey ouster with a mass campaign not limited to the courts--it will reinforce the lessons of the UPS strike and stymie the anti-union attack.

That strike, after all, was won through struggle. And that struggle was carried out not only by 185,000 Teamsters but by the whole labor movement, through concrete financial support and other shows of solidarity.

Now the same labor unity is needed to defend the Teamsters.

Some want to prepare for the possibility of Carey losing his appeal by finding a replacement candidate. But this is a frame-up of the top union leader in the country. Giving up on him instead of resisting the attack will only encourage more of the same.

This has got to be a fight.

Workers World spoke with Trudy Rudnick, president of Teachers Local 3882 representing clerical workers at New York University. Rudnick said: "By trying to force out the leader of the UPS strike and now with this atrocious grab for direct control, the government is doing everything it can to destroy labor's new momentum.

"This cannot be tolerated.

"I feel that we in the labor movement have to do everything we can to fight back. Defending Ron Carey is defending the Teamsters, and defending the Teamsters is defending all the unions.

"Instead of letting this attack demoralize or paralyze us, we should be getting together to plan a fighting response. I'm ready to act, and I know many others are too.

"As for President Carey, whatever his official status, he retains the moral authority of the country's top union leader. He has the respect, admiration and loyalty of millions of workers in and out of the Teamsters.

"As he fights the attempt to oust him from the union presidency, he should know that he does not stand alone. I hope this fight reaches beyond the bounds of legal technicalities and becomes a mass mobilization of the labor movement to stop the frame-up and beat back the attack."


By what right does the government dictate to 1.4 million workers how to run their union? There is no basis in law or precedent for denying the Teamster rank and file the democratic right to vote for the leader of their choice.

The ostensible legal basis for disqualifying Carey is the 1989 consent decree under which the Justice Department established an "Independent Review Board" to oversee union business.

Through the consent decree, administered by Federal District Judge David Edelstein, the government acquired direct control of the Teamsters. The union has even been forced to pay millions of dollars in fees for the IRB.

Five years ago, in an Aug. 20, 1992, statement headlined "Teamster President Carey blasts increased government control of union," Carey said "the rules imposed by the court go far beyond anything contained in the 1989 consent decree ... and represent an unwarranted imposition of increased government control over the union."

At that time, Carey charged that "the government's real motives are to cripple a revitalized and democratic Teamsters Union in its work on behalf of the members."

This is truer than ever now. By throwing out Carey's December 1996 election victory, barring him from running again and taking control of the union's finances, the government has extended the consent decree's bounds even further, offering only the flimsiest legal pretext.

It's all supposedly based on evidence of Carey's complicity in illegal financial dealings in last year's re-election campaign. But that is a patent lie.

History is full of government frame-ups of union leaders-- with the FBI usually playing a central role, as it is doing here. This is a purely political attack--a brazen instance of arbitrary and selective enforcement of campaign finance laws in service of the war against the unions.

Why wasn't House Speaker Newt Gingrich removed from office after all his double dealings and unethical conduct? Instead, he was merely reprimanded.

What about the wave after wave of revelations of rampant corruption in the 1996 U.S. presidential campaign? The Senate committee investigating that simply gave up and closed up shop.

Take a look at the Sept. 19 issue of the New York Times. One front-page story reported that three people--not Ron Carey--had pleaded guilty to campaign-finance misdeeds involving tens of thousands of dollars in the Teamsters election. Another front-page article reported on tens of millions of dollars in dirty money donated to the Republicans and Democrats.

Two months later, the government has summarily ruled Ron Carey unfit for office with no evidence against him and without due process of law. In contrast, not a single politician or business executive faces any charges in the real campaign finance scandal.

This isn't about the law. It's about the class struggle. It's the bosses against the workers--and with stakes this big you can be sure the highest levels of the government up to and including the White House are involved.

Labor's response must also be at the highest level, demanding with all the power of the working class that the disqualification of Ron Carey be declared null and void.

The only way to make that happen is to mount a fight to push back the enemy class from this naked power grab.

- END -

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