By Kevin Galvin
Associated Press Writer
Monday, August 31, 1998
-- The Teamsters' executive council inched closer to a deal with
the government Monday, saying it would pay $2 million toward a
federally supervised union election.
The decision represented a reversal by the
board, which had twice rejected any contribution toward supervision
after a federal appeals court said the government was bound to
pay under the terms of a 1989 consent decree.
Direct election of union officers has been
the cornerstone of efforts to fight corruption in the 1.4 million-member
union, and federal supervision is considered essential to safeguard
But combined with the Justice Department's
offer to pay about $4 million, the board's decision still left
the court-appointed election officer about $2 million short of
the $8.6 million he estimated he would need to monitor the vote.
Federal officials were evaluating whether
the vote could be adequately supervised with only $6 million.
Ron Carey, who was elected as a reformer
in 1991, saw his narrow 1996 re-election over James P. Hoffa set
aside after investigators uncovered an illegal scheme that used
more than $800,000 to benefit his campaign.
The decision to overturn the 1996 vote, which
was underwritten with $17.5 million in federal funds, came more
than a year ago. Carey has been expelled from the union.
But the new vote has been delayed by haggling
over the bill by Congress, the Justice Department and the union.
Despite a 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
ruling that the government had to fund the election if it wished
to supervise it, congressional Republicans reluctantly authorized
Justice to spend just more than $4 million.
The union's executive board stuck by the
appeals court ruling, but U.S. District Judge David Edelstein
in New York said Aug. 20 that he could not order the government
to pay the full cost. The board said it would appeal that ruling,
but voted 15-6 on Monday to offer the $2 million to avoid any
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who originally worked
to block any federal funding for the rerun, chided the Teamsters
board for failing to cover all the remaining costs of the rerun.
``They ripped off the American taxpayer for
$18 million bucks,'' said Hoekstra, R-Mich. ``We stepped up to
the plate for $4 million more and they rubbed our faces in it.''
The six board members voting against the
measure were aligned with Hoffa's principal challenger, Tom Leedham.
They held that an expedited appeal should be sought before any
union money was promised for the election.
Leedham campaign spokesman Steve Trossman
accused Hoffa's supporters on the board -- who have been urging
the union's hierarchy to contribute toward the rerun -- of leading
it to cave in to government pressure.
``If we had listened to Hoffa ... Teamsters
would have spent $8.6 million for this election,'' Trossman said.
``That gives you an idea what kind of bargainer he could be down
As the board met, about 100 Hoffa supporters,
who believe the delays have weakened the union, marched and chanted
``Let Us Vote'' in front of union headquarters, hoping to pressure
board members to change their position.
Hoffa's campaign released a statement calling
the board's decision ``a long overdue but welcome event,'' and
asserting that $6 million ``should be adequate'' to conduct the
© Copyright 1998 The Associated