December 7, 2009: Two Teamster officials are under fire for allegedly sexual harassing their staff and other Teamster members. One has already resigned.
These shocking cases are a wake-up call that our union officials can’t tolerate sexual harassment.
In September, TDU.org broke the news that Jim Santangelo, the head of Joint Council 42, used members’ dues to settle a $500,000 sexual harassment suit filed by an employee at the Joint Council.
Last year Santangelo made $317,398 in total compensation as head of the Joint Council, head of Local 848, and one of Hoffa’s International Vice Presidents.
The plaintiff, a former secretary at JC 42, alleged a long list of despicable acts were committed against her.
For example, she alleges that when she asked for a raise, Santangelo would only meet to discuss it at a hotel restaurant, where he stated “What if I said you can make $700 a week more if all you did was pass through those doors and go to a room with me?”
“You Gotta Go!”
Santangelo tried to hold on to his job. But the members of Local 848 organized to force him out.
On Oct. 25, nearly 500 members packed into a Local 848 meeting. The crowd chanted “You gotta go!” Santangelo resigned all of his positions four days later.
“Santangelo used fear and intimidation to keep members quiet. Look where that got us,” said Bulmaro Alcazar, a US Foods driver in Local 848.
“As a member of this union, it’s my responsibility to make my voice heard. Jim Santangelo’s horrible actions send the wrong message about what our union is all about.”
Local 995 President Fired
In Las Vegas, the alleged victim is a Teamster officer, Helen Green, the elected President of Local 995.
On Nov. 13, she filed a complaint in court alleging that Local 995 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Magnani “engaged in a concerted effort to harass and intimidate her in retaliation for her refusal to have sex with him.”
Before filing suit, Green complained to the head of Joint Council 42—Jim Santangelo. He promised to take action, but only if Green dropped her discrimination complaint. Instead, Magnani fired Green from her position as business agent.
Green is suing the local union, joint council and IBT for reinstatement into her full-time position, and back pay and damages that total over $600,000.
A Wake-Up Call
Some of our union’s top officials are sending the wrong message to women about what our union stands for. Not one of Hoffa’s 26 voting members of the General Executive Board is a woman.
These two cases should serve as a wake-up call that our Teamsters Union needs to live up to its best ideals of respect for women, and of a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment and discrimination.
It’s time for members in L.A. and Vegas to get involved and take back their locals.
“The new head of Local 848 has refused to say how he would be any different from Santangelo,” Alcazar said.
“We’ve got to bring members together and clean the local out, top to bottom.”
Nationally, we need a leadership that is more interested in working for ALL members than covering up for cronies.