June 20, 2008: The Hoffa administration has targeted Santa Rosa, Calif. Local 624 for a potential trusteeship. A trusteeship hearing was held on June 3 on charges of financial misconduct. But some Teamsters are asking if the real goal of a trusteeship is a forced merger of Local 624.
Former Secretary-Treasurer Bob Carr resigned after it came to light that his daughter, a clerical employee at the local, embezzled more than $8,000 in union funds to pay off personal credit card debt. The misappropriated funds were paid back to the local.
The trusteeship hearing focused on this issue as well as allegations that local union officials regularly used the union credit card to pay for lunches that were unrelated to union business and that clerical employees claimed excessive overtime.
Local 624 officers say that the meal expenses were for union business and the current Executive Board played no role in misuse of the union’s funds.
Local 624 has been the target of a proposed merger with Local 315 in Martinez, Calif. and Local 490 in Vallejo, Calif.
Local 624 officers rejected the proposal. That’s when International Rep Steve Mack threatened Local 624 with trusteeship.
The three-way merger between locals 624, 315, and 490 is one of several mergers that have been promoted in Northern California by Mack and other Hoffa administration regional power brokers.
Mack’s own local recently merged with Local 853 which is headed by his brother-in-law Rome Aloise. The locals had already been through a combined 15 mergers! The new Local 853 now has 12,000 members spread out over a large stretch of Northern California.
Many members and officers have expressed concern over this trend toward mega-mergers and what they mean for local union autonomy and the ability of working Teamsters to meaningfully participate in their locals.
Fighting Corruption, Protecting Democracy
Teamsters for a Democratic Union championed the right of members to vote on local union mergers—and we won that right at the 2001 Teamster Convention.
The Teamster Constitution states that before a local union can be merged, the merger must be approved by a vote of both the local union executive board and the membership of the local union to be merged (Article IX, Section 11).
The Hoffa administration needs to respect this right at Local 624—and beyond.
The financial improprieties at Local 624 need to be cleaned up and prevented from ever reoccurring. The local’s treasury belongs to the membership. It’s not a piggy bank for local officials or union staff.
But a corruption clean-up will not have credibility if it is seen as a cover for forcing through an unpopular local union merger.
Local 624 members need to hold Hoffa accountable to the Teamster Constitution and make sure that with or without trusteeship, there will be no merger of their local union without a vote of the membership.