How the $100,000 Club and TDU Have Changed Teamster History

TDU began publishing the “$100,000 Club” in 1979. Armed with this information, and the Right to Vote, Teamsters have demanded financial reforms and won them.

In 1987, Teamster President Jackie presser bagged $609,984 in multiple salaries. In today’s dollars (adjusted for inflation), that would be over $1 million. International Vice President Arnie Weinmeister made $443,612 that year. Others, like Weldon Mathis, took home $305,914. They used union-owned jets to go to golf resorts.

In 1989, Teamsters won the Right to Vote after TDU’s plan was adopted as part of the consent order to settle the racketeering suit against top Teamster leaders. Thanks to TDU, Teamsters had a tool for holding top Teamster officers accountable for their outrageous dues waste. That changed everything. Incumbents like Mathis and Weinmeister were forced to drop out of the race for International Office. Members were not going to elect those millionaires.

The incumbent slate, in an attempt to win the election, even adopted part of TDU’s platform! At the 1991 IBT Convention, they capped the General President’s salary at $225,000 plus an unlimited cost of living clause. No International officer or rep is allowed to use multiple salaries to make more than the General President.

The fat cats were on the run. TDU’s platform was gaining ground. Then it took a leap forward.

In December 1991, Ron Carey won the General President position and took decisive action to change the fat cat life style. The union limo and jet planes were sold. He lowered his own salary to $150,000 and began to phase out multiple salaries. TDU continued to publish the $100,000 Club and press for more reforms.

In 1993, Ron Carey abolished the “Area Conferences” which were a useless layer of bureaucracy. In one day, 65 multiple salaries were eliminated, and millions of dues dollars returned to local unions.

By 1996, even James Hoffa had to support TDU’s financial reforms—at least in his campaign platform. Hoffa promised to “cut n cap” with no International officer allowed to make over $150,000 by using multiple salaries.

When Hoffa won office in late 1998, he abandoned the platform. He raised his own salary, brought back multiple salaries, and pays himself and Tom Keegel a lucrative “housing allowance” to pad their income more.

Despite the setbacks and renewed waste under Hoffa, TDU’s hard-won reforms still have staying power.

Look at the $150,000 Club today. No one is bagging the kind of money they used to get – the members just won’t tolerate it. Our union is more democratic, thanks to the Right to Vote and the fact that TDU is there to get the facts out.

The result is less financial waste and more money for strike benefits and organizing. Can we do better? You bet. But where would our Teamsters Union be without TDU and the $100,000 Club?

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