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Teamsters Local 743 Suffers Another Stolen Election, Sees Future in Leedham

CHICAGO, Nov. 12 (IMC) - Taking a page from the Bush Administration's playbook, Local 743 Teamsters officials have stolen the presidential election, according to election supervisors.
CHICAGO, Nov. 12 (IMC) - Taking a page from the Bush Administration's playbook, Local 743 Teamsters officials have stolen the presidential election, according to election supervisors.

Ten observers accompanied election official James Dehann to witness the opening of two rented post office boxes, one reserved for incoming, marked ballots, and the other for mail marked "return-to-sender." In the previous election over 900 ballots bounced back without reaching a destination. When the mailbox was opened this time there were zero returned ballots out of a membership of 13,574.

"We did a mailing to all members using the same list," says Richard Berg, New Leadership Slate (NLS) presidential candidate, "and over 300 were return-to-senders."

NLS inquiries mailed to Dehann's residence in Michigan were sent back by the post office, and calls to Dehann were not returned.

The NLS acquired copies of receipts that indicated the boxes were never rented in Dehann's name, but instead were rented in Diane Strickland's name. Strickland is the secretary-treasurer of the Local 743 incumbency, part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Hoffa Take Back Slate.

J. Burger, also with the New Leadership Slate, pointed to additional irregularities in the election process.

Local newsletter "The Voice" is published five times each year. The local's bylaws stipulate that a special election edition of the newsletter must be put to bed no more than five days after the local's nominating meeting.

Burger accuses the Hoffa slate of dragging their feet on the deadline by blaming the government and its national oversight of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). Burger characterizes the special edition as a "propaganda piece" for the Take Back Slate which wasn't published until September 25, well after the listed deadline of September 14.

Both Berg and Burger maintain that too much discretion is left in the hands of union officials to violate established election procedures.

Five hundred members contacted by the NLS reported that they never received a ballot. Other members who requested duplicate ballots by calling the listed phone number never received ballots even though they left voice messages or spoke with an election official.

During the counting of ballots election officials refused to provide the NLS with an index of members' names, effectively quashing their constitutionally mandated right to challenge ballots on defined grounds.

Berg is not hopeful about seeing these violations straightened out at the local level. He says that, following procedures, the NLS appealed the election outcome to secretary-treaurer Strickland who denied their protests. They followed with an appeal to the Hoffa slate and were denied. Their final appeal rests with the Joint Council 25 -- also controlled by Hoffa forces -- and they expect no hearing there.

Teamsters reformers are looking for a shift in forces with the pending outcome of the IBT election. If challenger Tom Leedham is elected his administration would have the authority to investigate election events in all locals.

Not the first stolen election

Local 743 has a history of questionably run elections. The 1999 election was presided over by state representative Julie Hamos (D, Evanston) who refused to count 600 ballots, mostly from NLS stronghold Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center. She ruled every election protest in the Hoffa slate's favor.

The NLS also took particular exception to Hamos' ignoring of former 743 president Robert Simpson's confession that he had violated election rules by using his own money to send out a pro-Hoffa-slate campaign letter. Simpson had been suspended in the early '90s for violating a 1989 consent decree which barred him from union activities because of his ties to the La Cosa Nostra organized crime syndicate. He is a protégé of 40-year-long president Don Peters.

Health & welfare fund missing

The New Leadership Slate reformists have faced considerable challenges throughout their history of bucking corruption. In May union members discovered their health and welfare fund was missing $16.5 million. Hearing no news from officials, they estimate that the money disappeared over a two-year period under the supervision of Chester Glanton, local president, and Richard Lopez, recording secretary.

The revelations caused 30% of the membership -- thousands of workers -- to quit the local because they had no health insurance.

Richard Berg lost his son to a terminal illness and had to give up his newly bought car when he and his wife had difficulties paying for her pregnancy without insurance.

Facing an angry membership at the June meeting union officials abruptly adjourned the meeting. Glanton stepped down from the presidency and was replaced by another Hoffa slate member, Secretary Treasurer Robert Walston.

History of Teamsters pension funds

The Local 743 Health and Welfare Fund was founded in the 1950s and has historically been an attractive pool of money for politicians' and mobsters' organized crime. It, along with the billion-dollar Teamsters Central States Pension Fund, has been called the "largest private unregulated bank in the world."

Paul "Red" Dorfman brought Jimmy Hoffa Sr. to the attention of the Chicago mob which helped him rise to become Teamsters president. In return Hoffa appointed Dorfman's stepson, Allen Dorfman, to administrate the Central States Pension Fund.

The CIA has used this fund to funnel covert money overseas to overthrow leftist unions. The fund also provided millions of dollars for the building of Las Vegas casinos, hospitals and golf courses from 1959 to the early '70s.

In the late '60s the pension funds provided the financial lubricant to shift Teamster mob allegiances away from the jailed Hoffa, to Frank Fitzsimmons who became IBT President in 1971.

The Justice Department's prosecution of Hoffa brought executive government elements closer to the Teamster underworld. Nixon Administration Attorney General John Mitchell personally halted numerous prosecutions of mob Teamsters during his four-year tenure.

In 1974 Dorfman escaped prosecution when a key witness under government protection was murdered.

In the '70s the FBI began building a case against Roy Williams, Teamsters President, and Chicago crime head Joey Lombardo. The case exposed an attempt by Dorfman, Lombardo, Williams and other mob leaders to bribe Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada for his vote against a trucking de-regulation bill.

The Feds' case finished in 1983 and Dorfman, Williams and Lombardo were facing 12 years in jail. From an organized-crime point of view this made Dorfman a liability, since he might have decided to trade parts of his inside information for a reduced prison sentence.

Before being sentenced Dorfman complained to foreign news reporters that he had secretly been in business with Illinois Governor James Thompson, and that he was patriotic, had been in the Marines and had helped the CIA.

On January 20, 1983, while waiting for sentencing, Dorfman walked with pal Irwin Weiner onto the parking lot of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lincolnwood, a suburb of Chicago. Weiner may have set him up, as Dorfman was found shortly afterwards with 8 bullets in his body. Hours later Don Peters' car was found parked in the driveway of Dorfman's residence in Riverwoods.

The big picture

James P. Hoffa, son of Jimmy Hoffa who has been missing since 1975, has been trying to distance his organization from his father's reputation.

"There is no organized crime in the Teamsters union today," said Hoffa in July at the IBT convention in Las Vegas. But Hoffa associate Mike Bane, former president of Teamsters Local 614 in Pnntiac, Michigan, was removed from office by the Independent Review Board in July and barred from the union after evidence gathered by court-appointed FBI wiretaps uncovered Bane's ties to Detroit-area organized crime.

The Independent Review Board is a federal court-appointed entity created in 1989 as part of a consent decree between the Teamsters and the US Justice Department. It further determined in a 207-page report that Hoffa aide William Hogan Jr., Dane Passo, Special Assistant, and Ed Jacobson, Trustee of Las Vegas Local 631, colluded with Richard Simon, president and CEO of Chicago's United Service Companies, to undercut the local's members by giving jobs to hundreds of nonunion workers at $12 less per hour.

Hoffa is under fire from reformists like the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) for not representing workers' interests. Tom Leedham, Hoffa's challenger on the Rank & File Power Slate, took 39% of the vote in his first bid for the presidency in 1998, versus Hoffa's 57%.

Leedham -- a former warehouse worker -- has served in every level of Teamster leadership, including as International Vice President and Director of the International Warehouse Division. He is currently Principal Officer of Oregon Local 206. He is running with less than a seventh of Hoffa's $2 million campaign chest, favoring a direct-to-the-workers approach, travelling and campaigning at plant gates in addition to phone banking.

He points out that the rank-and-file has not seen their current $55/week strike benefits increase to $250/week as promised them by the current administration. And, while the labor movement as a whole grew, the 1.4-million-member Teamsters shrank by 11,000 members. Leedham pledges to take organizing seriously as opposed to the Hoffa administration's 67% reduction in the IBT's organizing budget.

Hoffa backed out of a scheduled debate with Leedham and refused to set an alternate date. An associate, Chuck Mack, debated Leedham on September 21 and reportedly fared badly. Mack defended the practice of Teamster officers receiving multiple salaries, with his own yearly total at $177,981.

Federal election supervisors will begin tallying ballots Tuesday and results are expected Friday. For news of 1996 IBT president-elect Ron Carey's recent exoneration, see "Former Teamsters President Carey found innocent" at

In memoriam

William Jenkins III, October 29, 2001.




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