By John Schmeltzer
Tribune Staff Writer
July 27, 1998
Ron Carey, who a year ago brought United
Parcel Service of America Inc. to its knees by leading 195,000
Teamsters on strike, was expelled from the powerful union for
In a unanimous ruling that some supporters
said was expected, the federal Independent Review Board concluded
that Carey was involved in a scheme that sent $885,000 from the
cash-strapped union to various political groups, which subsequently
funneled the money to Carey's re-election campaign in 1996.
But the three-member board didn't agree on
whether Carey, who has been on a voluntary unpaid leave of absence
from the union's presidency since last November, was a knowing
participant or simply negligent in his duties as the president
of the 1.4 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
"Carey . . . failed to exercise his
required duty of inquiry with respect to the unusual transactions,''
according to the majority opinion signed by two board members,
former federal Judge William Webster and labor lawyer Grant Crandall.
"By his entire course of conduct, he abdicated his fiduciary
The third member of the review board, which
under the federal consent decree is responsible for removing corrupt
members and officers, said he did not believe Carey's claims that
he was unaware of the illegal activities of his subordinates.
"Unlike my colleagues, I find that Carey
did know that the contributions were to result in a benefit to
his campaign fundraising,'' wrote former federal Judge Frederick
Lacey, who agreed that Carey be booted out of the union.
Although federal prosecutors are continuing
to examine the re-election scandal, most experts said the review
board's decision likely is the last step in a process that began
last August when a court-appointed election overseer annulled
Carey's re-election over James P. Hoffa, the son of the former
Teamsters president. Carey was barred earlier this year from a
still-unscheduled rerun election.
Carey, 61, has vehemently denied knowing
about the fundraising scheme. He couldn't be reached for comment
Monday about his ouster from the union to which he has devoted
himself for most of his adult life.
Likewise, efforts to reach Hoffa, who has
been cleared to run again for the Teamsters presidency, or representatives
at his Washington campaign headquarters, were unsuccessful.
Hoffa's supporters have insisted that the
illegal contributions were the key to Carey's narrow victory in
1996. With less than a month left in the election campaign, Carey,
who had been identified with the reform wing of the union, was
locked in a tight race with Hoffa. Some of the money raised through
the illegal scheme was used to pay for a mass mailing to union
members only days before they were to vote.
Jerry Zero, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters
Local 705 in Chicago and a Carey supporter, said the former Teamsters
president's ouster "will make it more difficult for a reformer
to be elected.''
But Harley Shaiken, a labor expert with the
University of California at Berkeley, said he wasn't so sure.
"Although this is personally devastating
news for Carey, it likely will have a modest, if any, impact upon
the election,'' said Shaiken. "The major impact was when
Carey was removed from the presidency.''
Marvin Gittler, a Chicago labor lawyer who
represents several Teamster locals, agreed: "I think the
political alignment has already been changed by what was anticipated,''
said Gittler, a partner in Chicago law firm Asher Gittler Greenfield
Cohen & D'Alba.
Unless reformers settle on a standard bearer,
Hoffa could win in a walk.
Tom Leedham, an Oregon Teamster, has been
endorsed by a Michigan-based reform movement. But John Metz, a
St. Louis union leader, has won the backing of several union leaders
who had backed Carey.
"The problem is that everybody is looking
for a flag to rally around,'' said Gittler. "From what I
understand, the only flag that is tall enough to be seen is Hoffa's,
and I think that might be a good thing.''
Though a new election was ordered months
ago, no date has been set to pick someone to succeed Carey. In
addition, Congress still hasn't agreed to appropriate the $4 million
needed to rerun the election. The government, under terms of a
1989 agreement allowing it to supervise union affairs, is obliged
to pay for the elections.
In addition to expelling Carey, the review
board barred William Hamilton, the Teamsters' former political
director, from joining or working for the union in the future.
"The serious breaches of trust by Hamilton
and Carey require severe sanctions,'' the board wrote in its ruling.
While Carey could appeal, experts pointed out that U.S. District
Court Judge David Edelstein, who would hear the appeal, has already
upheld the order for a new election.
Copyright Chicago Tribune (c) 1998