August 7, 2009: Over the past four years, members of Chicago Local 726 have organized a movement called “Fighting for the Future” to clean up their local and restore membership control. Now, the members’ allegations of financial wrongdoing and greed have been verified by serious charges leveled by the Independent Review Board (IRB).
Members of Fighting for the Future did the hard work to investigate their local, and contacted the IRB to get action.
Thomas Clair, John Falzone, Michael Marcatante have been charged, they and others have been given the boot. The IRB also recommended a trusteeship and it was imposed on August 3 by James Hoffa.
Local 726 has 3,800 members, all public workers and most employed by the City of Chicago.
“It’s no surprise to the members that our officers were playing fast and loose with Local 726 funds, Vince Tenuto told us. “Our Fighting for the Future team has been challenging them at local meetings for years. We stuck with it and made sure Clair and the others were exposed and will face charges.” Tenuto is a leader of the movement to reform Local 726.
The IRB charges read like a textbook on greed by a few local officials who forgot what Teamster leadership should be about. The detailed report from the IRB notes that:
The three charged officers transferred $125,000 from a local pension fund to the union treasury, so they could pay what they owed to the Central States Pension Fund (which covers the officers). They didn’t record this improper transaction anywhere.
When this was found by auditors, Clair and two other officials then arranged personal loans from themselves to the local, with interest, and backed up by local union assets, compounding their offense.
Clair informed the international and joint council that the officials cut their salaries to save $4000 per month, but didn’t cut their bloated salaries at all.
The officers also had a “severance fund” for themselves, but they didn’t disclose its liabilities on financial reports.
Financial reports presented to members at meetings were incomplete and inaccurate.
The officers, when questioned under oath, seemed to know close to nothing about the pension fund which they ran, or even possess its basic documents.
Local 726, with 3,800 members, has six (6) officials in the “$100,000 Club,” with perks to match, even though the local is running a deficit. This underlies the local’s financial problems.
Vince Tenuto said “Now it’s time to put the members in the driver’s seat. Give Local 726 members an independently supervised election, and soon, and they’ll elect the leaders they want and deserve. The membership can and will clean up our local. The union is the members and they’re ready for real change.”
The danger is that Hoffa and Coli have another plan in mind. Could it involve merging the local away, or installing one of their cronies to run it?
Local 726 is a viable local union. Give the members a fair election, and watch this become a strong and vital part of our union.
Click here to read the IRB Charges against Thomas Clair, John Falzone, and Michael Marcatante.
Click here to read more news about Local 726.
Click here to read the IRB's recommendation for trusteeship.