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JACKKNIFED ...the collapse of the Teamsters in the freight industry

Started by GREGORYABUTLER, April 13, 2009, 07:50:47 pm

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Also, the ALA's "Community Union" program had fizzled as well - in large part because it was competing for government and corporate grant foundation funding with other not for profit social service programs, many of which were more well established and had stronger ties with the Democratic Party.

So the ALA fizzled, the Atlanta organizing drive collapsed, and what was left of the "Community Union" program was spun off into an independent not for profit, run by UAW staff and funded by the Ford Foundation.

Meanwhile, Fitz and the MFCA were busy negotiating the April 1973 - March 1976 National Master Freight Agreement.

The talks were happening in a very different climate than the 1970 talks.

The Vietnam War was still raging - but since the withdrawal of American infantry in January 1971 almost no Americans were dying - which pretty much killed off the US anti war movement.

Between the death of the anti war movement and the collapse of the African American Civil Rights Movement, the whole political climate in America had drifted sharply to the right.

On the labor front, the US economy was dipping into a deep recession that, as it would turn out, ended up marking the end of total American domination of the world economy.

American workers were learning this the hard way - through plant closings and mass layoffs. It wasn't as easy to find a job as it was in 1970 - and even those who were working were seeing the value of their wages declining rapidly because of double digit inflation.

Consequently, wildcat strikes were rare - and it was easier for unions to get their members to settle for bad contracts.

The IBT was no exception - the teamster dissident movement was in it's death throes, and the remains of that movement in Nader's Professional Drivers Council and the International Socialists' Teamsters for a Decent Contract were not nearly strong enough to carry out any kind of serious resistance on the ground.

As for Jimmy Hoffa and his movement - they basically agreed with Fitz's approach to the contract, their only difference was that they wanted Hoffa at the table instead of Fitz!

In any case, Fitz's supporters and Hoffa's supporters were busy scuffling with each other in various Teamsters locals over who would hold office.

Some of these fights got quite ugly - in Detroit in particular...the hometown of both men...it gut really ugly really fast, with the usual Central States Teamsters tactics of firebombings and carbombs and beatings - especially in local 299, the home local of both Hoffa and Fitzsimmons.

The truly amazing thing about all the violence was the fact that Jimmy Hoffa and Frank Fitzsimmons positions on Teamster labor issues were IDENTICAL.

There was no political difference between Fitz's supporters and Jimmy's - except the question of which one of them would run the union.

The victor in that struggle would be able to give out all the low show and no show patronage jobs - organizers, business agents, "general organizers" -  that served "at the pleasure of the General President" and all the goodies that went with those jobs - high five figure salaries, Cadillac sedans or Lincoln Town Cars (with the gas paid for by the union) union credit cards, trips to Florida, Las Vegas or Palm Springs on "union business" ect.

To some, those perks were worth killing and dying for.

In this climate, Fitz was able to ram through a really bad NMFA.

The trucking companies won the right to fire shop stewards for leading wildcat strikes - and the union pledged itself to help them do it.

In return for becoming a designated strikebreaker, the IBT and it's locals won immunity from damage lawsuits for those illegal wildcat strikes.

Stewards had their rights sharply curtailed - they were specifically banned from calling any type of work stoppage, legal or otherwise, and their powers at the truck terminals were sharply limited to being in the room when a worker gets disciplined and putting up official Teamsters Union notices on the bulletin board!

It also became much easier for trucking companies to fire any other worker who led a wildcat strike - and to impose discipline on strike participants.

As bad as that was, the worst giveback  - the one that caused the most long term harm for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as a freight union and led to the present day deunionization of the industry, was in an MOU  ["memorandum of understanding"] attached to the agreement.

It was called the Special Commodities Rider.

The Motor Freight Carriers Association had claimed that some of it's member firms in the truckload sector wanted to haul fresh fruit and vegetables from the farms to the warehouses and frozen foods packing plants, but they could not profitably do so because the Teamsters pay scale was so much higher than what non union produce truck drivers were getting.

So, the MFCA wanted it's carriers to have the right to hire non union drivers to haul that cargo - and non union dockworkers and mechanics to handle the cargo and service those non union operated rigs.

Fitz agreed with the MFCA's request.

The Special Commodities Rider required that the non union drivers and terminal workers would be employed by separate divisions of the union trucking companies - totally abandoning the NMFA's Successorship Clause.

Successorship clauses are common in almost all craft union labor contracts in this country - they require that if the owners of the signatory companies open up new firms in the same business, they have to be covered by the same union contract.

It's a way of keeping unionized bosses from setting up shell companies as a way of dodging their obligations under their union agreements.

The Special Commodities Rider totally gutted the NMFA's successorship clause.

Worse yet, despite the MFCA's dubious claim that the union carriers only wanted to haul fresh produce, there was no limit on what type of cargo could be hauled by the non union subsidiaries of trucking companies.

Nor was their a limit on how much freight or how many routes had to be left on the union side of these companies - the agreement only said that they had to leave some of their routes union - that literally could mean 1 truck with 1 driver hauling 1 load for 1 client!

Schneider National, the first Teamster employer to invoke the Special Commodities Rider, sure as hell interpreted it like that.

They were a 48 state truckload carrier based in Wisconsin - they set up a non union company with an almost identical name [Schneider - which was so similar to the union company that they literally painted their trucks the same color - orange with the company name written in black], and quickly shifted almost all of their freight from their union side to their scab side.

In short order, the non union Schneider ended up with 10,000 non union truckload drivers - and unionized Schneider National was reduced to 250 teamster drivers.

Incidentally, despite the MFCA's claims that the Special Commodities Rider was needed to help union companies haul fresh produce, the only cargo left with the unionized Schneider National was....fresh milk!

In other words, the only cargo they hauled union was the very type of agricultural freight that, supposedly, they needed low wage non union workers to haul!!!

Every other Schneider National truckload client switched over to the lower cost non union Schneider.

Within a few years, almost the entire truckload sector of the freight industry shifted from union to this new status.

The less than truckload sector would follow within a decade.

Thusly the Teamsters entered the age of Double Breasting - the term the carriers made up to describe their new status as part unionized part scab firms.

This was an earthshaking development - but nobody talked about it at the time - not Nader's middle class driver advocates in the Professional Drivers Council, not the International Socialists and their Teamsters for a Decent Contract, not Jimmy Hoffa and his supporters (now united in a national group of their own, which was unimaginatively named "Helping Old Friends Feel Active" -  the abbreviation of which, of course, spells H.O.F.F.A.)

Hoffa's forces were too busy fighting Fitz's people for control of local 299 and other major Central States locals to actually struggle over a question of union principle!

Especially since Hoffa - who'd been signing substandard "white paper" contracts with freight carriers since 1939 - essentially agreed with how Fitz handled the 73' - '76 NMFA negotiations!

Hoffa's only beef was that he wasn't at the head of the table making the sellout!

As for the militant shop stewards in the terminals - the folks who had led the 1970 nationwide wildcat strike - between the recession and the IBT letting the carriers fire aggressive shop stewards pretty much at will, they had had their spirit broken and were unable to lead any effective resistance to the 1973 contract.

The only major Teamsters strike that year was the strike by Teamsters local 804 at UPS in New York City and Long Island. The issue was the substandard National UPS Agreement which, by allowing unlimited part timers, undercut the New York agreement.

New Jersey Teamsters local 177 (an affiliate of the Genovese family dominated Joint Council # 70 - run by the Provenzano brothers) openly scabbed on the local 804 UPS teamsters.

That led to local 804 picketing New Jersey UPS service centers which led to local 804 members being arrested and one local 804 teamster actually getting run over and killed by a local 177 member at a New Jersey terminal that was breaking the strike by handling strikebound packages from New York City.

Eventually, local 804 was forced to yield - and, along with UPS locals in Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago was eventually put under the substandard National Master UPS Agreement.

This was the beginning of UPS's status as one of the nation's leading low wage employers of disposable part time labor - a status all the more galling because UPS was a unionized company!

The president of local 804, Marine Corps veteran and second generation UPS driver Ron Carey, never forgave Fitz for 1973 - so he used his street smarts and the fact that his local was in New York City, the media capital of the nation, to launch a low key campaign for the general presidency of the Teamsters.

While Fitz was undercutting union conditions at the nation's # 1 small package firm, he was doing absolutely nothing to unionize the # 2 carrier.

That was a Memphis, Tennessee-based air freight carrier/express mail delivery firm owned by former Marine Corps fighter pilot Fred Smith - a company called Federal Express (a name the company's advertising consultants soon shortened to FedEx).

They were fast, and efficient - and rigidly militaristic to work for - and as FedEx rapidly expanded in every major US market, the Teamsters made absolutely no effort to try and unionize them.

The nation's # 3 small package carrier, a Dayton, Ohio-based air freight company called Airborne Express, was allowed to operate double breasted.

In New York, Harry Davidoff's grotesquely mobbed up local 295 had Airborne signed up to a white paper agreement based on NMFA.

Like many other airfreight carriers at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Airborne Express was permitted by Davidoff to assign part of their workforce to Teamsters local 858, a low wage airfreight clerks local run by his son Mike.

Also, like every other airfreight carrier at JFK, Airborne also had to deal with the men behind Davidoff - Lucchese family captain Paul Vario, newly minted Gambino family captain John Gotti (a convicted truck hijacker who had replaced the ailing Aniello "Mr Neil" Dellacroche) and independent truck hijacker James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke - all of whom expected their tribute, and the right to steal air freight without interference.

Airborne's pilots, mechanics and freight handlers in Dayton were also signed up to an NMFA-based white paper agreement.

As for the rest of the company - Airborne was allowed to use an unlimited number of non union air freight drivers and freight handlers, as long as they were - at least on paper - on the payroll of other companies.

The local delivery industry, by and large, stayed union.

This was true even in construction - where the building trades unions were under major attack (by 1978, most construction in the Intermountain West, the South, the suburbs of the big Northeastern, Midwestern and Pacific Northwest cities and most of California outside of the Bay Area was 80% deunionized).

The IBT was able to preserve it's strength in building materials delivery in part because of the union's ties to cosa nostra in the Northeast, Midwest and Nevada, and in part because the lumber yards and readimix concrete companies didn't actively deunionize the way the construction contractors did.

Also, many local delivery companies - especially frozen foods warehouses - took advantage of the Teamsters Union's willingness to allow them to cut the pension benefits of their workers.

An extreme case of this happened in Alaska during the construction of the Alaska Oil Pipeline from 1973 to 76.

Because of the extreme climate in that state, construction is very seasonal - work can only be done in the dead of winter, when the ice roads are cold enough to carry heavy trucks, or in the Arctic summer, when the ground is soft enough to dig.

Because of this, the contractors would bring in large groups of out of state workers to carry out the work in short intense bursts of activity during the brief building season up there.

In the case of Alaska Teamsters local 959, lots of teamsters from other locals in "the lower 48" would come up for a few months to haul materials to the remote work camps on the pipeline and then go home.

Over 4,000 out of state teamsters worked on that pipeline - some for every season of the 3 year job.

And every one of those out of state workers got cheated out of their benefits by local 959 - with the collusion of the contractors and the trucking companies (that pension fraud kept their hourly benefit costs low - since their pension fund contributions only needed to cover the relatively few permanent members of Teamsters local 959)

On the other end of the country, the Provenzano brothers local 560 allowed a local less than truckload (LTL) carrier, New England Motor Freight (NEMF) to sign a white paper agreement letting them pay less than NMFA wages and benefits.

Then, NEMF asked for permission to go double breasted - and Tony Pro, Sammy Pro and Nunzio said OK and let them do it.

Then, NEMF decided to go completely non union - and did so, with the blessings of the Provenzanos (the only union left at NEMF was the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represented the company's mechanics - years later, that IAM local would reunionize the drivers and dockworkers).

Across the river in New York City, Teamsters local 138 - the supermarket and frozen food warehouse local in Brooklyn and Queens - was allowing Key Foods Supermarkets to violate seniority rules and to underpay certain workers.

The Colombo family associates who ran the local would make sure that any worker who complained would be identified to the bosses - who would then fire them, and then local 138's business agents would make sure they stayed fired by sabotaging the handling of their grievance.

Local 138 wasn't the only warehouse local selling out it's members - far from it!

Nationally, grocery warehouse locals all over the country were letting employers impose production quotas, and were laying off workers who weren't fast enough - especially high seniority workers with higher wages and more vacation time.

Technically, it was illegal to fire a worker for not meeting production quotas - but as long as the companies said the worker was fired for "not following production methods" the firing was OK.

That loophole cost a lot of older teamsters their jobs and their pensions.

But it wasn't only warehouse teamsters getting screwed over - construction teamsters were taking it on the chin too - even in the Big Apple, where the construction unions were still the strongest in the nation.

Building Materials Teamsters local 282, the main construction drivers local in the city, and the only major Gambino family run construction union in New York City, was deeply involved in building trades labor racketeering.

Local 282 had "working teamster foremen" on every major union jobsite in the city.

Despite the misleading name, "working teamster foremen" were actually shop stewards who were supposed to keep non union trucks off New York jobsites.

In practice, companies that used scab trucks just had to pay tribute to the teamster foremen (who passed up a percentage to the family) in return for the right to use underpaid non union drivers.

While the Gambino family and local 282 subverted truck driver unionism on the rough construction end of the trades, the Bonnano family's local 814 did the same thing on the finish work end of the business.

Teamsters local 814 - the New York City and Long Island moving van drivers and helpers - let certain commercial movers and office furniture installation contractors (the ones that paid tribute to the Bonnano family) to pay below union scale wages to their helpers on certain jobs.

Locals 282 and 814 were not alone - those kind of scams were common in a number of the Genovese family dominated building trades unions in the city at that time - in particular the Carpenters, Concrete Laborers, Mason Tenders and Drywall Tapers - so it wasn't that surprising that the Bonnano family and the Gambino family were copying those tactic in the little piece of the construction rackets they controlled.

Similar deals happened all up and down the country - local trucking companies stayed union, but under substandard conditions.

In port trucking, the sea freight hauling carriers and the stevedoring contractors decided to be done with the Teamsters Union.

The sea freight hauling companies in Los Angeles Harbor never forgot that, alone among local trucking firms in the country, they'd been as hard hit by the national teamsters wildcat strike of 1973 as any of the over the road carriers.

They also, as a direct consequence of that strike, had seen Gunner Hansen, the 400 pound pro trucking company gangster who had dominated Long Beach Teamsters local 692 for years, defeated in a union election - making it a whole lot harder for the carriers to get away with labor abuses on the piers.

So, they fired all of their teamster port truckers - and agreed to hire them if they were to incorporate themselves as independent owner operator truckers, and would supply their own trucks (they only had to buy the tractors - the chassis that the sea freight containers sat on would still be supplied by the trucking companies).

Teamsters local 692's new leadership was utterly unprepared for this blatant union busting and didn't even try to unionize the drivers - both the former teamsters and the independent drivers who came in from outside the industry and already owned their own trucks and had their own DOT numbers.

Other sea freight carriers got the same idea - within a few years, most of the 50,000 teamsters who had hauled sea freight to and from the docks were no longer in union - either they'd been forced to become owner operators, or they were replaced by new owner operator truckers.

None of the sea freight locals even tried to do anything about this - not in Seattle, or Portland, or Oakland, or Long Beach, or San Diego, or Houston, or New Orleans, or Tampa, or Miami, or Port Everglades, or Charleston, or Wilmington, or Norfolk, or Baltimore, or Port Newark/Port Elizabeth/Port of New York, or Boston - all of the deep sea ports had their trucking deunionized without any resistance from the IBT.

Of course, the other waterfront unions were just as passive - the Communist Party USA-led International Longshore and Warehouse Union out on the West Coast was just as passive as the Gambino family associated Irish gangster-run International Longshoremen's Association was on the East.

And all 6 of the sailors unions - Masters, Mates and Pilots, Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, Sailors Union of the Pacific, Marine Firemen's Union, the Seafarers International Union and the National Maritime Union - were all totally silent on the attack on the Teamsters Union on the piers.

As all this was happening, Jimmy Hoffa was preparing to contest the Teamsters General Presidency at the 1976 general convention (in - where else? - Las Vegas, the city the Central States Pension Fund built, and venue for every IBT general convention for the last 4 decades).

Not that Jimmy had any real solution to any of these problems - but he still had his charisma and his ability to lie to teamsters with a straight face and get them to believe in him while he betrayed them.

Cosa nostra was not happy about this - Fitz was much easier to work with, and Hoffa was a lightning rod for law enforcement (and as it was, there was lots of FBI attention being paid to the union already).

And none of the mobbed up Teamsters leaders were less happy to see a return of Hoffa than the Genovese family's Provenzano crew.

They were dealing with serious criminal charges of their own (the unavenged ghosts of Anthony Castellito and Walter Glockner were about to catch up with Tony Pro) and they did not need any more law enforcement heat - and it was the consensus of the Provenzanos and all the Teamster-connected mob bosses that there would be a LOT of heat falling upon them if there was another Hoffa administration.

So, on July 30, 1975, Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano arranged to have a sit down with Hoffa in the suburbs of Detroit.

But Tony Pro didn't show.

According to press accounts published shortly afterwards - which have never been conclusively proved, or disproved, by subsequent investigations - Tony Pro had Local 560 business agent (and Genovese family soldier) Salvatore Briguglio and his brother (and fellow Teamsters official and gangster) Gabriel flown via private plane to a small airport near Detroit.

It is believed that they met up with Hoffa's foster son, Teamsters Union "organizer" Charles "Chuckie" O'Brien, who in turn is believed to have taken them to meet his foster father.

Hoffa was never seen again after July 30, 1975 - needless to say, it's a reasonable assumption that he was murdered, and his body disposed of in a cosa nostra run scrap yard in the Detroit area.

Sal Briguglio was killed in a New York mob hit 3 years later - his brother Gabriel went to jail with Tony Pro when the feds finally went after local 560 - and Chuckie O'Brien kept his mouth shut about his involvement.

Hoffa's "movement" - based as it was on illusions in Hoffa by teamsters at it's base and blind ambition for patronage jobs from a reelected General President Hoffa by Teamsters Union officers and staff in it's leadership - did not last very long after his murder.

Hoffa's son, labor lawyer Jim Hoffa, did make an effort to prod the feds into probing the case - and to this day, a lot of older teamsters still believe in the legend of Jimmy Hoffa The Great Labor Leader - but Hoffa's political movement in the Teamsters Union died with him.



April 13, 2009, 07:59:31 pm #2 Last Edit: April 19, 2009, 07:27:09 pm by GREGORYABUTLER
Some of the followers of the now defunct Hoffa movement drifted into the orbit of the International Socialists Teamsters for a Decent Contract, which was waging a campaign to oppose the 1976-79 NMFA and to have a token opposition presence at the 1976 Teamsters international convention.

At this point, TDC and Ralph Nader's Professional Drivers Council were all that were left of a once vast movement of dissident teamsters.

Fitz's only grassroots support came from the local Teamsters Union officers and their bands of thugs and gangsters.

One of the more ambitious local Teamsters leaders - Jackie Presser (who had taken his father's leadership posts when he became mortally ill with cancer, and now held 8 separate official International Brotherhood of Teamsters full time jobs plus a job with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees and one with the Retail Clerks International Association) set up an organization called the Brotherhood of Loyal Americans and Strong Teamsters ["BLAST"] to counter TDC.

Presser was known to have a sick sense of humor, and the name was a bad joke on Presser's own long personal history as an arsonist and carbomber.  

Also, one of Presser's 8 jobs was public relations director for the Teamsters - and this was part of that effort.

The organization was basically a cover for the classic Teamsters Union goon squad terrorist campaign that Presser was unleashing against TDC, the last remnant of the once powerful dissident movement in the IBT.

Presser, a very intelligent man and one of the few IBT officers (other than the late Jimmy Hoffa) who at all understood the power of the media, also exposed TDC's achilles heel - it's dependence on corporate foundation grants to fund it's operation

Many teamsters were - and still are - deeply uncomfortable with the idea of a group funded by the bosses intervening in the political life of their union, and Presser was able to play on that natural and basically healthy class instinct.

In any case, Fitz was able to get the 1976-79 contract approved - there were small brief local strikes in some of the big cities in the Central States, most notably in his home local in Detroit, but the contract still passed.

Worse yet, the main focus of TDC - and the remaining dissidents in the truck terminals - had been on the economic package.

For the price of a modest wage increase, Fitz and the MFCA were able to get the Special Commodities Rider's language incorporated into the contract - where it would continue to allow union carriers to set up non union subsidiaries.

Also, Fitz and the MFCA were able to keep in the language that weakened the power of shop stewards in the terminals, and allowed shop stewards and other workers who led wildcat strikes to be fired at will by the carriers.

When the National Master UPS Agreement, and the local UPS agreements in New York, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco came up in May 1976, again Fitz let the UPS teamsters go on strike briefly - and then, after the big city UPS workers had been given a chance to "blow off some steam" by striking, Fitz rammed through all of the concessions that UPS wanted in the agreements.

In UPS's case, that meant that every UPS Teamsters contract in the US now allowed the unlimited use of part timers.

This meant that the full time career teamster UPS loaders who earned the same pay as every other UPS teamster could now be replaced by college students for whom UPS was a "transitional job" - a short term source of employment to tide them over until they graduated college and went on to their real job.

This was the beginning of the McDonaldsization of UPS - and was a big defeat not only for UPS workers and for teamsters but for young workers in general.

The International Socialists had a front group in the UPS teamsters locals too - it was called UPSurge, and it was virtually identical to TDC.

With UPS pulling down the bar, their non union competitor FedEx and their double breasted competitor Airborne Express were able to reduce hours of work, pay and benefits for the loaders at their firms as well.

After the concessionary 1976-79 NMFA and National Master UPS Agreement were signed, the International Socialists merged their two teamster front groups, TDC and UPSurge, into one - Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

They then set out to have a token presence at the 1976 convention - and succeeded, by getting local 299 shop steward and former Hoffa supporter Pete Camarata to take the floor at the convention.

This didn't really accomplish much - but the International Socialists thought it was a very useful public relations victory (and a good way of reaching out to "reform" local union officers - guys like Ron Carey of New York City UPS Teamsters local 804 - who the Trotskyists thought would be the key to electing a 'reform' leadership at the international union level in the IBT).

Meanwhile, the greed of certain New York gangsters was paving the way for a full scale federal attack on organized crime in the Teamsters Union.

James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke and his hijackers carried out the biggest armed robbery in the history of the world in 1978.

Using information obtained from a teamster foreman with massive gambling debts, Jimmy the Gent's crew robbed the Lufthansa Airlines freight hangar at Kennedy Airport. They stole between $ 6 million and $ 10 million dollars worth of cash and negotiable securities from the hangar (to this day nobody knows for sure how much that haul actually was worth).

Jimmy the Gent then turned around and killed almost every single person who could link him to the robbery.

He'd just come home from a federal prison sentence, was still on conditional release and didn't want to go back to jail.

Also, he didn't want to share any of that rich score with the men who actually stole it for him - Paul Vario and John Gotti got their tribute, and the thieves who did the work got killed.

Starting with James "Stacks" Edwards, the crew's sole African American member, who was killed because he didn't destroy the trucks used in the heist (the cops found them and traced them to him) and not stopping until he'd killed every person in on the heist, including all of the thieves and even the hairdresser girlfriend of one of the robbers (who's only offense was being questioned by the FBI - she said nothing, but got killed by Burke's hitmen anyway).

Jimmy the Gent didn't kill the teamster foreman - who cooperated with the feds - nor did he kill longtime friend and associate Henry Hill, a Lucchese family associate who then turned around and cooperated with the feds to beat a cocaine dealing case.

Hill's testimony led to the incarceration of Jimmy the Gent and Paul Vario, and the collapse of both of their criminal organizations.

The aftermath of the Lufthansa robbery not only ended the storied career of Jimmy the Gent, it also emboldened the airlines and their shippers to demand that the feds crack down on all of the other racketeers in the air freight industry.

Meanwhile, the decay of the Teamsters Union continued in the freight sector - and accelerated in 1978, when President Jimmy Carter and Senator Ted Kennedy (two great "friends of labor") proposed the deregulation of trucking.

The Interstate Commerce Commission had regulated freight rates and truck routes since 1934 - President Carter and Senator Kennedy wanted to eliminate that, and let carriers pick their own routes and set their rates.

This would be a windfall for the shippers - because rates would fall rapidly, and freight routes would adjust to reflect current manufacturing centers, warehouses and consumer markets.

The IBT leadership didn't have a plan to deal with this - Fitz had bet the union's political fortune back in 1968 on continuing Republican control of the White House - but Nixon's resignation in August 1974 and President Gerald Ford's defeat in the 1976 elections had totally screwed up that plan.

As for the International Socialists and TDU - like most of the American far left, they were closet supporters of the Democratic Party, so it was impossible for them to publicly oppose a Democratic president and the most liberal Democratic Party senator, no matter what they did to workers.

Consequently, there was no real opposition to the deregulation of the trucking industry - no demonstrations, no mass rallies, no truck caravans converging on Washington, no nationwide freight strikes, nothing.

There was another National Master Freight Agreement negotiated during the time the deregulation bill was being debated - the 1979-82 NMFA - but the deregulation issue didn't even come up.

Fitz didn't raise the deregulation issue - neither did the International Socialists and TDU, nor the Naderites' Professional Drivers Council, nor did FASH, the national steelhauler's caucus.

There was a brief national freight strike, and a slightly longer steelhaulers strike, and then, after the freighthaulers and steelhaulers had "blown off some steam", Fitz gave the MFCA everything it wanted in the 1979-82 NMFA.

The only gain for freight teamsters in that agreement was paid sick days - for the first time, freight workers could get 5 days of sick pay each year.

The Special Commodities Rider language that allowed union carriers to have non union double breasted companies was still incorporated into the text of the pact, and the trucking companies still had the right to break wildcat strikes and fire the shop stewards who led them, with the full assistance of the IBT.

Airborne Express and all of the other "white paper" carriers were also able to keep their substandard conditions - including Airborne's huge non union local air freight cartage operation.

They weren't the only double breasted carrier - there were lots of others now.

Sadly, neither the Trotskyists, nor the Naderites, nor the steelhaulers, made any of this mass deunionization an issue!

They had fought Fitz over a few pennies more in the mileage rate, and a slightly higher hourly wage - penny ante stuff, considering the fate of the whole unionized freight sector was at stake!

Meanwhile, President Carter and Senator Kennedy continued their efforts to deregulate the trucking sector - still with no coherent opposition either from the IBT leadership or the teamster dissident movement.

The best the IBT leadership could do was a ham handed effort to bribe Senator Howard Cannon (D-Nevada) that only succeeded in bringing more FBI heat on the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

At least they tried - in a pathetically stupid way, but at least they tried - TDU wasn't able to put up any kind of serious resistance at all to the Carter - Kennedy attack on America's largest blue collar union.

A union which was shrinking - by 1980, the IBT was down to 2.1 million members.

Deregulation came in that year - with bipartisan support and with no meaningful organized freight worker resistance.

Deregulation merely accelerated the deunionization of trucking which had begun in 1973 with Frank Fitzsimmons' Special Commodity Rider.

The trucking companies were starting to really take advantage of their NMFA sanctioned right to operate double breasted

Initially, it was mainly the truckload carriers that were going double breasted, but now less than truckload (LTL) carriers were following in their footsteps.

This trend accelerated after President Carter's deregulation plan came into effect.

Low rate independents and gypsies could now operate legally - and anybody with a truck could haul any load along any route at any rate without having to clear it with the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Neither Fitz nor TDU nor the Professional Drivers Council had any serious plan to deal with this crisis.

The best Fitz could do was returning to his old Nixon strategy of supporting the Republican Party - but when Ronald Reagan got elected president, the IBT didn't get any real political gain for their enthusiastic support for the GOP, since Reagan was a supporter of trucking deregulation.

Fitzsimmons didn't have to worry about that though - he had more pressing personal issues - he was dying of lung cancer.

Fitz  left this world not long after Reagan's inauguration - and was replaced by a former truck driver from Kansas City named Roy Williams.

Williams had a tough road ahead of him - he faced a federal investigation even before he got sworn in.

Williams got to negotiate his own NMFA and National UPS Master Agreement in 1982.

He actually had an easier time than Fitz had ever had - the opposition was weak (even though now unified under one umbrella - TDU) and it was in the middle of the Reagan recession, so teamsters were scared for their jobs, and terrified of going on strike.

UPS and the Motor Freight Carriers Association companies got whatever they wanted in their 1982-85 agreements - but that wasn't enough.

Corporate America wanted to take full advantage of the rapid fall in freight rates caused by President Carter's deregulation program - to do that, the power of the IBT and cosa nostra had to be broken.

Also, the major hotel chains who had come to dominate the Las Vegas casinos wanted to terminate their business relationships with the Central States Pension Fund and the IBT officials and cosa nostra figures who controlled those business relationships.

Parallel to that, the feds were launching a crackdown on labor racketeering in New York City - and the New York City building materials Teamsters were a big part of those investigations.

This caused the Chicago Outfit's leaders to panic - and start killing potential co defendants and witnesses.

One of those victims was Teamsters financial wizard Alan Dorfman, the head of the Central States Pension Fund and the financial godfather of the Las Vegas casinos, who met his death at the hands of unknown gunmen in the parking lot of a Chicago hotel.

At the time of his death, Dorfman had already been removed from office by the feds, who had taken over the administration of the Central States funds.

While the hoodlums were murdering each other and scrambling to stay out of prison, the men and women who's dues paid the leases on their Cadillacs were fighting for survival.

Between the recession and the Special Commodities Rider-sanctioned double breasting, it was a bad time to be a freight teamster.

Ironically enough, the industry was actually expanding - the NON UNION side of the industry!

Carriers were deunionizing right and left - and major less than truckload carriers like Consolidated Freightways, Yellow, Roadway, CCC, USF and NationsWay were setting up non union alter ego companies at a rapid clip (and transferring many of their clients to their double breasted subsidiaries).

Non union carriers that had avoided unionization in the 30's and 40's like Overnite and newly formed non union firms like Central Freight were also rapidly expanding - eliminating even more union jobs.

Even with all the factory workers, civil servants, brewery workers and other non drivers that Fitz and Williams had organized, the union was shrinking.

Membership plummeted from 2 million to only 1.5 million in just a few years.

Williams was unable to stay in office - between his failing health and the federal criminal investigation, he had to leave his post.

He was replaced by, arguably, one of the most corrupt men in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (and that's REALLY saying something!) - the notorious Jackie Presser.



Presser - as both a businessman and a labor official - sat on both side of the bargaining table.

That is, when he had time to sit down at all - Presser owned a bar and a jukebox repair company, and held 10 separate full time union posts!

He was the public relations director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, IBT international vice president, chairman of the Ohio Conference of Teamsters, head of Teamsters Joint Council # 41 in Cleveland, principal officer of 4 separate Teamsters locals  - and a Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees local - and a United Food and Commercial Workers supermarket clerks local!

Assuming that Presser actually showed up for work at all of these jobs (an amazing feat - since some of these positions were in the Cleveland area, some were in Detroit  while others were in Washington DC) he clocked an incredible 400 hours of labor each week.

What a work ethic!

He may not have worked all of those hours - but he sure as hell did get paid for all of them!

Presser collected a jaw dropping $ 740,000 a year in combined IBT salaries, making him the highest paid union official in the history of the world.

And that doesn't include the salaries he collected from his HERE and UFCW posts - or the income he drew from his businesses.

He also got 2 late model Cadillac sedans - with the gas paid for by teamster dues money - and a Gulfstream III jet  - with the members picking up the tab for the 2 pilots, flight attendant, mechanic, the jet fuel and the hangars in Washington DC and in Cleveland.

Unbeknownst to the Teamsters Union officers who selected him for the IBT presidency, Presser also had an 11th job - FBI informant!

His compensation for that was a "get out of jail free card" - as long as he told the feds everything they wanted to know, he could continue his racketeering operations unmolested by law enforcement.

One job that Presser had never held was - teamster!

As a teenager, he had been a full time criminal, then, after a brief stint in the Navy, he divided his time between his bar (which was funded by Central States Pension Fund loans), his jukebox maintenance business, his union officer posts (in unions that he'd never actually been a member of), and his racketeering career - and that vocational pattern continued for the rest of Presser's life.

This was a low point for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Presser made it worse at the first IBT convention he attended as president.

As had been a Teamsters convention tradition since the 1960's (when the union permanently moved it's conventions to Las Vegas), the 5 conferences (Canadian, Eastern, Central States, Southern and Western) held huge banquets each night - with the members picking up the tab for all the caviar, steaks, lobster, champagne (not to mention the strippers and prostitutes who were the overnight guests of the many male delegates who left their wives back home).

At the Eastern Conference Banquet at the convention, Presser (who weighed over 400 pounds) had male models dressed as ancient Roman gladiators carry him into the lavish million dollar event on a Roman Emperor's sedan chair.

The astonishing thing was - nobody in attendance (other than Presser's publicist - and the wife of a delegate who took a picture of the grotesque event and later made it available to the media) thought that there was anything wrong with this pathetic spectacle!

Truck drivers losing their jobs, having to work non union - or having their mileage rates, hourly wages and benefits cut by their own union just to stay employed - but out in Las Vegas their union leaders were living lives of disgusting gluttony, at the workers expense!

It's truly unfortunate that there was no mass opposition movement in the IBT to oppose this abominable criminalized leadership.

There was Teamsters for a Democratic Union, of course.

TDU had gotten stronger - it had taken over Ralph Nader's Professional Drivers Council, and with the collapse of the remains of the steelhaulers movement (the implosion of 80% of the American steel industry devastated the steelhaulers and their movement disintegrated as a result) they were the only opposition group left.

Unfortunately Solidarity (the former International Socialists - they borrowed the new name from the famous Polish trade union) did not have a serious program to deal with the crisis in the industry.

At a time when teamsters were looking for leadership, and would probably have followed TDU and Solidarity (a lot of teamsters respected them for taking on the gangsters) the Trotskyists were looking to find reform union leaders to follow behind, rather than taking leadership in their own hands.

Solidarity and TDU had another problem - a lot of dissident teamsters had illusions that the FBI was going to save them from cosa nostra, and give the workers decent gangster-free democratic unions.

This was a dangerous and deadly illusion - but Solidarity and TDU, in their rush to curry favor with reformist Teamsters local officers (many of whom did their best to aggressively encourage illusions in the FBI), did not try and explain to the teamsters the real reasons why the feds were meddling in the IBT.

The government didn't want a strong union in trucking - they wanted a weak union (or preferably no union at all) the better to reduce freight rates and trucker wages.

The feds had a triple goal - break the monopoly power of the major trucking lines, bring down freight rates, and break the power of cosa nostra in trucking.

To achieve those goals, the feds needed to break the pro trucking company leadership of the Teamsters Union, and replace them with a leadership that was beholden to the government, and would support the feds' pro shipper agenda.

The feds launched their attack at the Teamsters Union's weakest point - New Jersey Joint Council # 70 and Union City Teamsters local 560, the most blatantly wiseguy ruled affiliates of the entire IBT.

The Provenzanos were overthrown, Tony Pro finally got jailed, and the feds put local 560 under the control of a federal monitor.

There were no tears on the loading docks of North Jersey for the Provenzanos - other than a few well connected individuals who would lose their no show or no work jobs, there weren't any teamsters who were going to miss the Pros!

A lot of people - especially the many local 560 teamsters who's wages had been cut or who were cheated out of pension coverage or who lived in constant fear of being fired for "violating company production methods" (a warehouse industry lawyers euphemism for not working as fast as the boss wanted you to) actually welcomed FBI intervention - because they believed the feds were coming to help them!

The feds had another - pro corporate - agenda, of course, but they were coming nonetheless, and this time, for the entire union.

Across the river, in New York City and Long Island Joint Council # 16, the State of New York Organized Crime Task Force and the FBI were also going after the IBT.

The state was targeting the commercial waste carting cartel and Teamsters local 813, while the feds, as part of a broader probe of construction labor racketeering, went after construction drivers local 282 and commercial movers local 814.

There were corporate agendas involved with all of those cases.

The State of New York was working in league with the nation's three largest private waste hauling companies, Browning Ferris Industries (BFI), Waste Management, Inc (WMX) and USA Waste.

They were trying to break into the New York City market - and the only thing that kept them out was the waste haulers cartel. They needed law enforcement to break up that cartel, so they could come in and monopolize the market from the 300 small local firms that operated under cosa nostra protection.

As for the probes targeting the construction unions - the city's leading banks and real estate developers had long resented having to pay tribute to local mobsters, pay high construction prices to their contractors and to have to pay for the decent wages and benefits that union construction workers were paid.

They began resenting this even more when - thanks to the deunionization of city funded housing construction - construction worker wages in the residential sector fell sharply, but prices stayed just as high as they had been when that work was unionized (the mobbed up contractors were pocketing the difference).

The bankers and developers brought in the feds to break the power of the unions - which were the backbone of the cosa nostra cartels that kept construction prices and contractor profits high, at the developers and bankers expense.

The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (a very ambitious lawyer named Rudolph Giuliani) joined in this attack on cosa nostra linked unions.

Giuliani filed a federal civil lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America.

Every IBT general officer was also named as an individual - and  the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Bonnano and Colombo families, and the Chicago Outfit, as criminal enterprises, and the leaders of those families as individuals.

None of the employers associations were mentioned in this civil racketeering suit - not even the blatantly cosa nostra dominated ones like the Metropolitan Import Truckmen's Association, and certainly not the most powerful association in the industry, the Motor Freight Carriers Association.

Nor were any of the many trucking companies who had directly benefited from IBT labor racketeering - even firms like New England Motor Freight (NEMF), who had actually bribed their way into deunionizing their drivers- were mentioned in the suit either.

To the extent that trucking company management got mentioned at all, they were described as "innocent victims"!

The shippers - the big corporations who were the ultimate beneficiaries of the feds intervention in the Teamsters - actually were innocent victims, in a way.

After all, it was their freight being hijacked and their rates that were being pushed up thanks to the anti trust practices of cosa nostra and the trucking companies.

And, of course, the biggest victims were the men and women who worked in the road freight industry - because it was their union that was being perverted and subverted.

But the trucking companies were far from innocent - in particular the big carriers, who had gotten their leading positions in the industry as directly because of cosa nostra-run freight cartels.

Presser began frantic negotiations with the feds - both openly through union lawyers in talks with Giuliani and through the back channel of his FBI handlers.

He was seeking a settlement that would maintain his control over the union - and would avoid any kind of jail time.

Presser, like his predecessor Roy Williams, had another pressing issue - a medical one. He was dying of cancer, and he was struggling for his life as he fought the feds and cosa nostra to keep hold of the union.

Between avoiding death from cancer, avoiding death from a cosa nostra hit, staying out of prison and maintaining his post as general president of the Teamsters Union, Presser had a lot on his plate.

So when the two big national Teamsters Union agreements, NMFA and UPS, came up in 1985, Presser didn't ask for very much of anything at the table.

Nor did TDU put any fire under his feet - they had concerns of their own.

As Trotskyists, Solidarity should have opposed the government takeover of the IBT on principle. But, as practical opportunists, they were trying to figure out a way to put a leftist face on the FBI takeover of the union, and to actively be a participant in it, while still looking like socialists.

Also, Solidarity had another problem.

Like a lot of opportunist socialists, they basically believed that only college educated middle class people were capable of actually understanding socialist politics.

They felt that workers were far too stupid, conservative and shortsighted to be socialists, and could only be tricked into supporting socialism by hiding socialist politics behind the cover of "good trade unionism".

Because of these basically anti working class beliefs, Solidarity been desperately trying to conceal their politics from teamsters since they started TDU back in the early 1970's.

That had actually played straight into the hands of Jackie Presser - who, as IBT PR director had always done his best to pull TDU's Trotskyist leaders out of the closet and expose their politics to teamsters.

TDU continued with this "self redbating".

They couldn't put forward TDU's longtime leader Ken Paff, because his socialist politics had long ago been exposed by Jackie Presser.



Nor could they put forth their most famous member, Diana Kilmury.

She was the first woman construction driver in British Columbia/Yukon Territory Construction Teamsters local 155.

Kilmury was famous in teamster dissident circles for heroically standing up to her local's leadership while she was still recovering from a horrible traffic accident - and for being the only delegate at the 1984 Teamsters convention to stand up to Jackie Presser and his B.L.A.S.T. goons.

Kilmury had a triple handicap in TDU's views - she was a socialist, she was a Canadian and she was a woman.

Solidarity pandered to the imagined sexism of male teamsters...and totally ignored the women teamsters who made up a third of the union and a majority of some of the IBT's trade divisions (industrial teamsters, civil service, ect) - not to mention the men who would vote for a woman if she was a union militant.

Kilmury was just about the only woman in her 10,000 member construction local - but they'd elected her as a convention delegate!

But Solidarity's stereotype of teamsters as sexist, racist and nationalist neanderthals who's alleged bigotry had to be pandered to prevailed.

Nor could they put any other of their leaders out there as candidates for general president - because Presser had outed them as socialists too.

Also, some of the other TDU leaders had Kilmury-style "handicaps" - Solidarity felt they were unelectable because they were women, or African American, or Latino ect (again, Solidarity's classist stereotype of White male teamsters as reactionary bigots prevailed over the far more complicated reality).

And both the Hoffa movement and the steelhaulers movement had disappeared, so there was no longer a deep pool of White, male, right wing, militant shop stewards with conservative Democratic (or better yet, Republican) politics - guys like Pete Camarata  - who could be put forward as respectable TDU facemen.

So they had to look to reformist local union leaders - of a certain type.

They couldn't be Canadian - or African American, or Latino, or women.

They couldn't be too leftist - this left out a number of New York Teamster leaders with ties to the Communist Party USA - most notably Bill Nuchow of white collar workers local 840 and Dan Kane of Western Union telex workers local 111.

But they could have a working relationship with cosa nostra - as long as it was at arm's length (a quality that Carey, Nuchow, Kane and just about every supposedly "reformist" local officer in the IBT shared).

The logical candidate (based on Solidarity's self imposed racial, gender and politics limitations) was Ron Carey - the president of New York City UPS Teamsters local 804.

Carey was White, male, an ex marine - and a registered Republican!

He also had tremendous political ambition - ever since he'd gotten himself profiled as a heroic, honest, sincere and uncorruptable union officer by New York Magazine writer Steve Brill in his 1978 book "The Teamsters", Carey had been seeking a road to the general presidency.

The federal takeover would be just such a road.

Carey and TDU would be a perfect match.

TDU had a national organization - three of them, actually. TDU itself, Labor Notes Magazine (another Solidarity front) and Solidarity itself.

Solidarity also could draw people and resources from it's other labor front groups - two separate organizations with the same name, New Directions (one in the United Auto Workers, the other in New York City Transport Workers Union local 100).

The Trotskyists' multi faced organization had lots of wealthy 60's radicals on their mailing lists, a legion of millionaire limousine leftists and campus radicals turned upscale middle class professionals.

Some of these upscale radicals were as famous as they were rich - like film producer Oliver Stone and rock star Frank Zappa - but even the less prominent of these high net worth socialists could back up their respectable radical politics with their ample checkbooks.

And Ron Carey was the perfect faceman - cause even Jackie Presser couldn't redbait a Republican!

The feds needed both Carey and TDU - Carey as somebody with a respectable labor leadership background, and TDU because they were socialists, to make the federal takeover of the IBT look "pro labor" to the teamsters in the freight barns.

Meanwhile, Presser was seeking allies.

Through the good offices of local 840 chief Bill Nuchow and local 111 head Dan Kane, those same leftist New York City Teamsters officers who were too red for TDU, Presser got the public support of famed civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and, just as importantly, the private backing of the Communist Party USA.

That public support and behind the scenes lobbying enabled Jackie Presser to bring the IBT back into the AFL-CIO in 1987, and to get the public endorsement (and, far more importantly, access to the government and corporate connections) of the head of the federation, Lane Kirkland.

Presser and TDU's high level politics didn't stop the decay in the trucking terminals - the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Presser dropped the "Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America" part of the official name) was down to just 1.3 million members (a 50% decline from the glory days of the 1960's), and was suffering a net loss of 30,000 members a year.

Unionized freight truckers had a new enemy to contend with - the railroads.

During the 1970's, the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, the dominant rail carrier in the Northeast and Great Lakes States, used a buyout by the government's Conrail system to get out of railroading (the corporation refocused to concentrate on it's considerably more profitable big city real estate development operations).

Conrail in the Northeast and Midwest - and the dominant carriers in the South (CSX, Chesapeake System, Norfolk Southern) the West (Santa Fe, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, Burlington Northern) and Upstate New York and New England (Guilford Transportation and the Canadian National Railroad) - spun off their labor intensive passenger routes to the government owned AMTRAK system or to local transit authorities and cut all of their unprofitable freight service.

On the lines that remained, they cut labor costs to the bone.

They launched a coordinated nationwide offensive against their unions and their work rules - and they won.

From a minimum of 5 workers (in 4 different unions) per freight train they now had 2 workers (in two different unions) on those trains, with no limit on workday, train length or mileage.

The locomotive firemen, who's job had long ago been made redundant by coal's replacement by diesel fuel and electricity, all got laid off permanently. Their union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, got folded into the Order of Railway Conductors.

The brakemen and trainmen lost their jobs too - and the conductors had to do their car hitching and unhitching work as well as their work keeping track of the cargo. Their union, the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, dissolved too, and it's remains joined the ORC (now renamed the United Transportation Union).

The locomotive engineers kept their jobs, and their union, because somebody had to drive the train - also, locomotive engineers have to have a special federal license to drive a train, so they aren't as interchangeable as other railroad crafts.

On the platforms and in the railroad yards, they went from 8 unions to 6, work rules were gutted and the 12 hour day (and on some of the long haul lines in the Intermountain West, the 14 hour day) were restored.

On some carriers, one conductor and one locomotive engineer could now do the work of 100 long haul teamsters (200 teamsters, if the carriers were using sleeper service - as many trucking companies did on long haul Intermountain West runs).

The trucking companies took advantage - and with the new "piggyback" or "intermodal" service, they loaded their trailers right onto the back of railroad flatcars.

Piggyback/intermodal was win win for both sets of freight bosses - and lose lose for both sets of freight workers.

Every trailer on a train cost a teamster a freight run (or two teamsters in the case of the longer sleeper truck routes) - and, the railroads could replace a whole crew of a dozen or more railroad freighthandlers taking the freight off a truck box by box and putting the boxes in a boxcar with just three railroad freighthandlers - one running a crane lifting the trailer off the road and putting it on the back of a flatcar, the other two on the flatcar chaining it in place.

The impact of piggyback service actually shattered the freighthandlers union.

The Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks collapsed, and it's remnants were cobbled together with the remains of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the Switchmen's League of North America and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen to form the Transportation Communications Union - a much weaker organization that was a lot less than the sum of it's parts.

Other than one national strike in 1978, the railroad unions were largely passive in the face of massive attacks on themselves and their members.

Piggyback service not only helped break the railroad unions, it also began to seriously cut into teamster employment.

Presser really wasn't in a position to do anything about that - or to fight for the two largest groups of members he directly bargained for, the 200,000 workers left under the National Master Freight Agreement and the 130,000 UPS teamsters, who's pacts came up in the spring of 1988.

The freight workers got a mediocre NMFA, with the same critical flaws as every NMFA since 1973.

The UPS part timers really got screwed in their agreement.

Presser agreed to freeze starting pay for part timers at $ 8.50 an hour, while full timers would see their starting rate increase.

That was a permanent starting pay freeze - and, to this day, 21 years and a lot of cost of living increases later, UPS part timers start at $ 8.50/hr.

UPS also got the right to use lower paid workers - air express drivers - for certain types of delivery work. Some of these air express drivers were actually part timers - the first time UPS had been allowed to use part timers for driving work.

One of the reason the freight agreement was subpar, and the UPS agreement was an outright betrayal of the part timers, was Presser's increasingly critical situation.

He absentmindedly negotiated those contracts between high level summit meetings with politicians, union chiefs and the feds and frequent trips to the Cleveland Clinic for chemotherapy and radiation treatment for his inoperable brain tumor.

Presser ended up dying shortly thereafter, replaced as general president by one Weldon Mathis, the general secretary treasurer.

Mathis was a career business agent from Atlanta Teamsters local 728.

He had only briefly worked as a teamster before becoming a full time union officer in 1950, and, in typical IBT leader fashion, he handed his local over to his sons when he advanced to higher office.

Mathis even split off part of the local to create local 528, so both of his sons could have local unions of their very own!

Needless to say, nobody bothered to ask Georgia teamsters their opinion on that!

The only major "highlight" of the Mathis administration in local 728 was his good old boy-based leadership's role in sabotaging the joint UAW-IBT African American workers organizing drive back in 1968.

Mathis time in the general president's chair was very brief - he was quickly ousted by Salvatore "Sammy Pro" Provenzano and Joseph "Joe T" Trerotola, who wanted an Eastern Conference guy with stronger cosa nostra ties in the presidency.

They picked Billy McCarthy from Boston Teamsters local 25.

McCarthy was a former freight driver - and made history as the first actual freight industry worker to serve as IBT general president.

He'd been a business agent for many years, and had close ties with the wiseguys - both Boston's Irish organized crime family, the cosa nostra families in Providence, Rhode Island and New York City and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

He resumed Presser's negotiations with Giuliani - talks that became far more urgent with the arrest of Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno.

Fat Tony was the owner of S & A Concrete, a major hirise concrete contractor in New York City. He was also the underboss of the Genovese crime family, and in that latter capacity he was responsible for negotiating all major disputes in construction and trucking in New York City, and for broader labor and union governance issues related to the Teamsters and the building trades.

These high level discussions, involving billion dollar industries and the work lives of a couple of million people, were held in the back room of Fat Tony's other business, a pizzeria in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood.

Fat Tony's arrest put the entire leadership of Teamsters Joint Councils # 16 and # 70 and the Eastern Conference of Teamsters at risk of arrest - and if they went, the IBT's international leadership's arrests would almost immediately follow.

This forced McCarthy to settle with Giuliani, more or less on the US Attorney's terms - putting the International Brotherhood of Teamsters under government supervision.

The already existing federal trusteeships of the Central States Pension Fund and New Jersey Teamsters local 560 would continue separately.

But the rest of the IBT would be supervised by a judge in the federal Southern District of New York, assisted by a court appointed Special Master and a three person panel that would serve as the highest judicial body in the IBT, with the power to expel any person from the union for cosa nostra ties or other major criminal activity.

And, every major decision of the IBT leadership - with the exception of organizing, bargaining and strikes - would have to be approved by that federal judge.

The cost of the federal supervision of the union would be completely funded by the IBT general fund.

The feds also wanted to build a leadership that would support their efforts to break up the local trucking and construction cartels, and would break up the dominant positions that the leading less than truckload carriers still held in the freighthauling industry.

The current Teamsters Union leadership, with their ties to the trucking companies and cosa nostra, would not be willing, or even able, to accomplish this task.

So the feds wanted a whole new leadership, who would be beholden to the feds rather than to trucking company management.

They planned to install this leadership through the means of a one member one vote general election for the union's top leadership posts.

This was a great democratic innovation (especially in light of the fact that of all of America's unions only two, the United Steel Workers of America and the United Mine Workers of America, elect their general officers - every other union has their top officials appointed by general convention delegates).

But, as we will see below, the feds severely miscalculated in their assumption that a democratically elected Teamsters Union leadership would be able to go against the dominant IBT employers.

The feds didn't grasp a basic reality of North American unions - and this mistake would cripple almost all of the government's efforts at regime change in the craft unions.

The social base of the leaderships of those unions was in a narrow privileged layer of workers with strong ties to the bosses in those industries.

In the case of the Teamsters, where, due to the existence of a large class of owner operators, there was a large overlap between trucking company management and the most privileged layers of truck drivers, there was an even stronger tie between the employers and union leaders.

Even if those leaders were subject to election, that privileged layer of teamsters would still dominate the union, in the absence of a mass movement of the less privileged teamsters - employee drivers, dockworkers and warehouse workers.

Since the feds had no intention of building a mass movement on the loading docks (they were as terrified of that as the trucking companies, the IBT leadership and the leaders of TDU and Solidarity were!) it was impossible for them to build a stable pro federal leadership in the IBT.

Neither the feds nor TDU understood that at the time.


TDU didn't want to build a mass movement either.

This was partly because of Solidarity's elitist contempt for the intellectual capacities of blue collar workers in general and freight teamsters in particular.

It was also partly because of Solidarity's fear that an independent mass movement of those dumb uneducated blue collar workers that was not carefully controlled by smart well educated responsible middle class people like them might get too radical and might challenge the system in irresponsible and revolutionary ways.

One of the late Jackie Presser's most effective public relations attacks against TDU - and the one that still resonates with many freighthaulers to this very day - was his claim that TDU and it's leaders were corporate funded outsiders trying to meddle in the internal affairs of a blue collar union.

It was an effective charge because it was basically true!

TDU was funded by a mix of corporate foundation grants and donations from rich leftists - dues colleted from the group's alleged "10,000 members" were a very small part of their income.

TDU's leadership looked at the federal takeover as an opportunity to become the behind the scenes ruling party of the Teamsters Union, without having to actually build a mass movement of workers as a power base - basically, it was a get rich quick scheme, built on the weak and unstable foundation of a federal court order.

Unfortunately for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, this get rich quick scheme was ultimately doomed to failure.

It probably didn't seem that way at the time.

Judge David Edelstein - the federal judge who Giuliani's consent decree had placed as final arbiter on all Teamsters Union policy decisions - seemed to be on their side, even going so far as to picking a pro TDU candidate as Elections Officer - a left wing lawyer with ties to Solidarity, Barbara Zack Quindel.

Even then, there was a problem with the wealthy non teamster donors.

Specifically, film producer Oliver Stone's donations were a problem - because he was an employer, and the National Labor Relations Act forbids employers to be part of union elections in any capacity.

Making matters worse, he was a teamster employer - he had members of Teamsters locals 25, 399 and 817 working for his production company.

The officers of those locals happened to be vocal TDU opponents.

In other words, not only was Stone directly meddling in the internal affairs of a union that represented some of his employees, he was also supporting political opponents of the union officials who directly represented his workers.

This made Stone's donation a serious violation - but, thanks to Quindel's intervention, all TDU had to do was return Stone's check.

This was a natural consequence of TDU's lack of a social base among actual teamsters - and was foreshadowing for future problems.

Meanwhile, the Teamsters Union leadership were divided into several hostile camps, preventing a unified opposition to the pro TDU forces.

McCarthy was unable to get a campaign organized - and ended up being a lame duck who would leave office no matter who won the election.

McCarthy also faced electoral opposition from a Carey/TDU candidate in his own local - George Cashman.

Cashman ended up defeating McCarthy.

Not that it mattered much for the members - Cashman the "reformer" had ties of his own to Irish organized crime and to the Hells Angels, just like McCarthy did, and he was soon giving the local's best construction and motion picture driver jobs to wiseguys and gangbangers, just as his predecessors always had.

James P. "Junior" Hoffa - the logical opposition candidate - was barred from the race, because he wasn't an actual teamster (he was a lawyer in private practice who represented several Detroit-area IBT locals - including the local his dad founded, local 337).

Lacking Hoffa's name on the ballot, the IBT leadership were divided between Walter Shea (Joe T's successor as head of the Eastern Conference) and R. V. Durham, the head of North Carolina Teamsters local 391.

Although they both had solid support from local officers in their home conferences (and Durham had the behind the scenes support of the Communist Party, USA and several CP led locals in New York City), the leaders of Western and Central States were divided.

Also, many Teamsters Union officers were very busy defending themselves against the new Independent Review Board - which was rapidly clearing house and kicking out IBT leaders with blatant cosa nostra ties.

Keeping their salaries and their Lincoln Town Cars - not to mention staying out of prison - was a lot more important for these guys than campaigning!

TDU's candidate, Ron Carey, had support from many of the UPS locals - and, of course, from the feds.

Solidarity and TDU had imported a number of professional union activists from the staffs of other unions (most notably the United Mine Workers of America - who's leaders had also been installed by the feds, back in 1975) and from the world of left wing activism.

None of those folks had ever been teamsters - or coal miners, for that matter.

Most teamsters supported "none of the above" and were barely involved in the election (many factory worker teamsters were barely aware there WAS an election - since their locals had always been on the fringes of Teamsters politics anyway).

There were actual labor struggles going on that distracted the members from the balloting - the UPS agreement and NMFA were both up for negotiation during the campaign (and neither McCarthy nor Durham nor Shea nor Carey/TDU had any real plan to fight back against all the years of givebacks to the freight carriers)

Shea and Durham cancelled each other out, and Carey won by a plurality in December 1991, becoming the first directly elected Teamsters Union general president - and the first UPS driver to hold that post.

And 80% of teamsters didn't even bother to return their mail ballot - silently rejecting all three candidates.

Carey was sworn into office in February 1992. He immediately fired most of the staff at IBT headquarters, bringing in the leftists and ex UMWA staff who had worked on his campaign as their replacements.

He also changed the name of the union's bimonthly propaganda sheet magazine from the International Teamster to the New Teamster.

It was still a propaganda sheet, written by professional public relations people rather than Teamsters Union officers and activists or legitimate labor journalists and it still had no independent news coverage or analysis of Teamsters events or freight industry news.

Carey just fired the Republican Party PR people (many of whom were Presser-era holdovers) who used to write the magazine's lying puff piece articles and brought in Democratic Party PR people - to write lying puff piece articles.

Carey also continued the practice of having all of the magazine's content in English, with no articles in French or Spanish (despite the IBT's many French Canadian and Latino members - some of whom were more comfortable reading articles written in their native languages).

Judge Edelstein and the Independent Review Board, who published bimonthly reports to the members in the magazine, didn't feel the need to translate their articles into Spanish or French either.

Carey inherited a union that was rapidly shrinking - it was down to 1.3 million members when he came into office (only 180,000 of whom worked in freight - a 20,000 worker loss in just 3 years!).

His first acts were budgetary - reducing expenses to reflect the reality of a shrunken union. The 7 Gulfstream executive jets were sold, and their crews laid off and many of the Cadillacs and Lincolns got sold as well.

Staff salaries were reduced and many no show or no work "general organizer" jobs were eliminated as well.

Carey also disbanded 4 of the Conferences - the Eastern, Central States, Southern and Western Conferences were all dissolved, with only the Canadian Conference remaining as an autonomous body.

This was also presented as a budgetary measure - but Carey's disbanding of the conferences had more to do with the fact that the majority of local union leaders n the IBT were Carey opponents, and the Conferences were rival centers of power in the union that could be used against his administration.

It also removed a major financial resource from his opponents - the second or third salaries that many local officers received from Area Conference payrolls were taken away at one fell swoop.

Carey now was able to face the problem of a shrinking union - in a growing industry.

The road freight business was rapidly expanding - as were the closely related small package and air freight industries.

In road freight alone there were 2 million workers - only 180,000 of whom were members of the Teamsters Union.

He - and TDU - both knew that the solution was organizing, but they were not prepared to launch the kind of sweeping 1930's style organizing drives that would be necessary to revive the union.

Launching a mass movement of truck drivers was dangerous - it would bring tens of thousands of militant workers (and hundreds of militant workplace leaders) into the union, and it would antagonize the feds, who wanted to reduce the standard of living of truckers, not increase it!

But not organizing pretty much guaranteed that the union carriers would continue to deunionize just to stay in business, and guaranteed the eventual extinction of the Teamsters Union as a freight drivers organization.

Even UPS was in danger of deunionizing! The biggest teamster employer had a non union subsidiary, UPS Logistics, and a huge non union white collar workforce - and the non union side of the company was growing faster than the union side.

So, to deal with this crisis, Carey launched some very limited organizing drives.

The Teamsters Union's Organizing Department approached a number of activist FedEx workers (some of whom were veterans of a failed United Auto Workers organizing drive in Philadelphia) and put together a small scale FedEx organizing campaign (big enough to be noticed, but too small to seriously threaten the # 2 small package carrier in the nation with unionization).

The Organizing Department also approached George Cashman - the pro Carey gangster unionist from Boston - about setting up a Port Drivers department.

Cashman - who had strong ties with the South Boston Irish wiseguys and Hells Angels gangbangers who controlled the Boston waterfront - agreed to lead a drive to reunionize the port truckers the union had abandoned in the 1980's.

He also agreed to get paid a 5th salary - on top of the other 4 six figure salaries he drew as president of Boston Teamsters local 25, president of Joint Council # 10, international vice president of the IBT and part time MASSPORT (Massachusetts Port Authority) board member - for this job.

Cashman's 5th job brought his compensation up to almost Jackie Presserian levels - over $ 600,000 a year, plus expense accounts, a Lincoln Town Car and a no show job for his mistress on the payroll of the Local 25 benefits fund.

Cashman didn't organize the port truckers in his own back yard, Boston Harbor.

After all, he didn't want to offend his fellow MASSPORT board members - or the shipping lines and stevedoring contractors they answered to - or the Hells Angels and the Irish mob that stood behind the stevedoring contractors - so that was out of the question.

Nor did he approach Teamsters local 805 on the Brooklyn waterfront or local 560 across the river on the New Jersey waterfront - because the feds were busy taking over those locals from the Genoveses.

But he did approach a group of radical Latino drivers in the Port of Los Angeles (led by militant CPA Ernesto Jesus "Ernie" Navarez...yes, you read right, a radical tax accountant!) who had been involved in a failed Communications Workers of America port truckers organizing drive in 1988.

The LA port truckers hadn't failed in 1988 - they'd been abandoned by the CWA, who had launched a massive Latino workers organizing campaign in LA two years earlier.

Overnight, and without warning, the CWA cut it's losses, went back to it's core jurisdiction (telephone company workers) and pulled out of Southern California, abandoning tens of thousands of militant Latino workers who had looked to them for leadership, including the LA harbor port truckers.

These LA truckers were ready, willing and able to organize when Cashman and the IBT came to them in 1992.

The Teamsters Unions lawyers (and the feds, who were always looking over their shoulders) were NOT ready, willing or able - they were terrified of a port truckers strike, and used the excuse of a possible anti trust lawsuit, because the port truckers were owner operator drivers who used their own trucks to haul the port trucking carriers' chassis and the steamship lines' sea freight containers.

This anti trust excuse was used to delay port trucker organizing for many years.

Carey also launched a freight organizing drive - kindasorta.

Instead of a national drive targeting the entire industry - in particular carriers on the rapidly growing Laredo, Texas to Chicago route, and the non union subsidiaries of Consolidated Freightways, Yellow, Roadway, US Freightways, NationsWay and UPS - Carey went after two small companies instead.

One was Overnite Transportation (OVNT).

The Memphis-based less than truckload carrier had managed to avoid unionization during Hoffa's Southern organizing drive in the 1950's, mainly because OVNT was a  paternalistic family-owned firm that had close to Teamsters Union wage levels and good working conditions.

But, in the late 1980's, the descendents of the original owners decided to cash out - they sold the company to Union Pacific Railroad.

Union Pacific, flush with cash from it's profitable Chicago to California piggyback service, wanted to be a full service door to door intermodal logistics firm, instead of just a railroad.

Having their own non union LTL trucking company was part of that plan.

Union Pacific junked the near NMFA pay scales, gutted the benefits, and, most angry-making for the 10,000 OVNT workers, imposed brutal Union Pacific-style labor relations at the relaxed, family oriented southern trucking company.

Workers who had hated or feared the Teamsters Union for decades flocked to the IBT.

Over 1,000 of the firm's 10,000 drivers, dockworkers, secretaries, mechanics and security guards joined the IBT organizing committees - and over 4,000 more were willing to sign authorization cards.

This kind of pro union groundswell is unheard of in modern union organizing - as a result, the OVNT organizing drive was far and away the most successful Carey era organizing drive.

At least at first.

Then UPRR put the hammer down.

Union Pacific set up what can only be described as a private terrorist group - called OVNT SWAT - in all 130 of it's US terminals.

The OVNT SWAT thugs operated with impunity (the tech-savvy goons even had their own website, and bragged about their vile deeds on truck drivers websites like TeamsterNet and Freighthaulers!) - especially at the company's home terminal in Memphis.

The pattern was a group of OVNT SWAT thugs would single out a pro union worker, beat him or her up, and then OVNT managers would fire the victimized worker on the spot for "fighting at work" - while leaving the OVNT SWAT goons unpunished!

In one case, a middle aged female dockworker at Memphis was followed into the ladies room by 4 male OVNT SWAT goons, had her arm broken - and then got fired before she could even get to the emergency room!

Union Pacific fired over 2,000 pro union workers in this campaign of blatant, in-your-face union busting terrorism.

The Teamsters Union's response?


The IBT's lawyers did write lots of letters, and file lots of unfair labor practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, and did do their best to represent the fired workers in court.

But that was about it.

There was no mass picketing at OVNT terminals and no attempts to get teamsters to refuse to handle freight inbound to or outbound from the OVNT system.

The union didn't picket Union Pacific freight yards - and teamsters continued hauling freight into and out of the UPRR rail system as if nothing was happening.

No attempt was made to ask the railroad unions to call a sympathy strike against the UPRR system.