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Union Reformers Appeal for Public Support as Teamsters Gear Up to Count Ballots

Rank and file union reformers in Teamsters Local 743 are waging a pitched battle to oust a 'leadership' that has been accused of both sweeping corruption and long-standing mob ties -- and they're urging the public to rally with them this Saturday when ballots are counted for the union election. The current leadership is widely believed to have stolen the last election three years ago.

The current union leadership has a long history of acting against its members. In 2001, leadership allowed management to effectively dump health care coverage for thousands of workers, saying the health care fund -- which had totalled $16 million -- was broke. This fall, immigrant workers at Bedford Park's Silver Capital Corporation blasted the leadership for negotiating a severance package that denied them seniority rights or the right to vote on the agreement. Union officials reportedly threatened to report Mexican workers to immigration authorities if they protested the backdoor deal that closed the company. The workers have filed a complaint about the deal with the National Labor Relations Board.

The dissidents have won some victories. Earlier this year, activists forced their leadership and management at the Frederic Cooper lamp factory to reinstate a five-day work week. And an unsuccessful leadership attempt to expel a dissident shop steward backfired, drawing even more support to the reform slate.

But activists have discovered that hundreds of ballots have disappeared from a 'secure' post office box -- in what activists charge is a repeat of the strategy to steal the election three years ago. Local 743 ballots will be counted this Saturday, October 16 from noon to 4PM at 4620 S. Tripp, and dissidents are urging the public to rally there with them in a show of solidarity for their struggle for union democracy.

Read Kari Lydersen's full story | Teamsters Local 743 New Leadership Slate website




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