By Peter Szekely
Sept, 09, 1998
WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (Reuters)
- A court-appointed monitor on Thursday requested another postponement
in the long-delayed rerun election of the leaderless Teamsters
union, but insisted a new president could be declared by the end
of the year.
The proposal by Election Officer Michael
Cherkasky to delay mailing ballots to the union's 1.4 million
members to Nov. 2 from Sept. 14 follows weeks of wrangling between
the federal government, the union and the courts over who should
pay for federal oversight of the election.
``The proposed amended timetable is a reasonable
schedule for concluding the rerun election,'' Cherkasky said in
papers filed with U.S. District Court Judge David Edelstein of
New York. ``It will ensure a completed election by the end of
this calendar year.''
Vying for the top spot of the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters are James Hoffa, 57, whose father ran
the union in the 1960s and 1970s, Tom Leedham, 47, who heads the
union's giant warehouse division, and John Metz, 59, director
of its public employee division.
The new election was ordered when former
union President Ron Carey's 1996 narrow re-election over Hoffa
was thrown out after the discovery a year ago of a scheme that
illegally funnelled Teamsters union money into Carey's campaign
Carey took an unpaid leave last November
after another court appointed official found that he knew about
the scheme and barred him from running in the new election. In
July, a three-member panel set up to root out corruption in the
Teamsters expelled him from the union.
Carey, who has denied any wrongdoing, is
appealing the decisions.
Since Carey's departure, the union has been
led by its No. 2 officer, Secretary-Treasurer Tom Sever,
who is seeking re election on the Metz slate.
The rerun election was delayed several times,
most recently because of a standoff over funding.
Although Congress voted last year to bar
the use of taxpayer money to oversee the rerun after about $18
million was spent on the 1996 contest, a U.S. Court of Appeals
ruled earlier this year that if the government wants the election
supervised, it must pay for it.
The Teamsters first refused to pay for election
supervision, but later reached a compromise in which the government
would pay $4 million and the union $2 million.
While that is considerably less than the
$8.6 million price tag Cherkasky previously put on the printing,
mailing, counting and oversight of the ballots, he said he could
live within the budget if he made cuts in certain areas, mainly
in his office's ability to investigate and resolve election protests.
Under Cherkasky's proposed schedule, which
is subject to approval by Edelstein, ballot-counting would begin
on Dec. 3.
Edelstein oversees a 1989 consent decree
that settled a federal anti-racketeering suit against the union
after it was long known as the most corrupt in the American labour
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All