By Marla Donato, Tribune
Sherman M. Carmell, 67, a premier
labor-union lawyer who was known for his cool style, impeccable
dress and razor-sharp mind, died Saturday at Hospice of the North
Shore at Evanston Hospital after a long illness.
The list of clients of Mr.
Carmell's law firm, Carmell, Charone, Widmer, Mathews & Moss,
read like a who's who of Chicago labor groups, including CTA bus
drivers, the Teamsters Joint Council No. 25 and the Chicago Federation
of Labor, an umbrella organization for labor unions in Chicago
and Cook County that has 500,000 members.
Mr. Carmell was involved in
major cases dating to the late 1960s when he helped negotiate
a contract for Chicago truckers that won them wages that surpassed
those that Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa had negotiated on a national
level, according to Bill Widmer, one of Mr. Carmell's partners.
"In 1970 he forced Hoffa
to reopen the national freight settlement to match the money truckers
got in Chicago," said Widmer. "It's an enormous void
to fill, a major loss to the labor movement," said Don Turner,
president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. "Sherman had
a subtle but precise mind. He knew every major player in the city,
not just in the unions but the politicians as well."
Born in Chicago, Mr. Carmell
received a bachelor's degree and later a law degree, in 1953,
from the University of Michigan. He decided to follow in the footsteps
of his father, Daniel Carmell, who was one of the city's first
labor lawyers, known for his flamboyant style. But unlike his
father, the younger Mr. Carmell had a style that was low-key.
"He had a tendency to lull witnesses in a quiet, cerebral
way and then he would quietly shred them to pieces," said
Mr. Carmell argued and won
one of his most famous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in
1979. The Teamsters vs. Daniel case involved the way pension funds
were governed. Mr. Carmell, who represented the interests of the
pension fund for a Teamster's local, argued that the funds fall
under labor rather than security laws. Mr. Carmell was the lead
attorney for the Chicago District Council of the Laborers International
Union in its current fight to prevent a takeover by the Washington-based
International, which had charged the Chicago council with corruption
and mob influence.
At the time of his death, Mr.
Carmell was preparing a legal brief asserting that the Washington
group's motives were strictly political, according to union sources.
Survivors include his wife,
Bonnie; two sons, David and Gary; two daughters, Jamie Hyman and
Jill Dimidrief; and 10 grandchildren.
Services will begin at 1 p.m.
Monday in Weinstein Family Services Wilmette Chapel, 111 Skokie
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