February 11, 2010: Can you imagine Teamster officials willing to dissolve their local union rather than settle a case with a member that they blacklisted from working? That’s LaSalle Illinois Local 722—but the members have said No to that plan.
At the January 10 union meeting, when the officials tried to get the members to vote to approve the destruction of their local, the membership said No. The members’ consensus was to settle the issue; but Steve Mongan and other officers of Local 722 have ignored them and continue to spend union funds on appeals.
Mark Serafinn, the victimized member, proved in court back in 2006 that the local union leaders wrongly suspended his membership, fined him $10,000, and prevented him from working in the craft. The federal jury awarded him $105,000 and partial fees to his attorneys.
The local officials could have settled the case right then. That would have been the smart and fair thing to do for the good of the union, the members, and justice for brother Serafinn. They chose instead to waste hundreds of thousands in endless appeals and counterclaims.
The Hoffa administration has not lifted a finger to try to fix this disastrous situation. In fact, International Rep Bill Moore actually helped draft the bogus charges against Serafinn back in 2002.
Mark Serafinn was a long-time union activist and road steward at Consolidated Freightways, who was an elected delegate for Ron Carey in 1991. Then in 1992 he won the presidency of Local 722. He was reelected in 1995 and 1998, and joined the Tom Leedham slate in 2001, running for International VP on the reform slate.
Serafinn narrowly lost his bid for reelection, and then sought to return to work in the construction craft. The first day that Steve Mongan took office as the head of Local 722, he met with Joint Council 65 president Keith Gleason. Their cooperation led to the blacklisting of Serafinn in 2002.
In 2006, a federal jury made its decisive ruling in Serafinn’s favor. Instead of belatedly doing the right thing, the officers countersued, appealed, stalled and even attempted to put the local union into bankruptcy, a move which was successfully stopped by Serafinn’s attorneys. This month, local officials again filed for bankruptcy, in another legal move destructive to the union.
On February 8, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit heard all federal appeals. Serafinn believes the jury verdict will be resoundingly upheld.
Due to the tenacity of Mark Serafinn and attorneys Robin Potter and John De Rose, the fight for justice goes on.
The use of union resources to further a personal political agenda has no place in our Teamsters Union. Local 722 officers have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars which could have been spent on organizing, education and representation. And the Hoffa administration has done nothing to fix the situation.
Hopefully the members of Local 722 who turned out in force in January to oppose Mongan’s plan to dissolve the local will continue to speak out, organize, and take back their union.