Chicago Power Play

August 22, 2012: Chicago Teamster honcho John Coli has used his muscle to install pal Becky Strzechowski at the helm of a 12,500-member local.

It's the latest power grab by Coli who has set his sights on succeeding Hoffa.

Teamster power broker John Coli has done it again. He's ousted the president of Chicago Local 700 and installed pal Becky Strzechowski to take the helm of the 12,500-member public sector local.

Coli also dissolved an entire Joint Council, merging nine locals and 16,000 members into Joint Council 25.

Not a bad month's work. But it's been that kind of year for the ambitious Teamster politician.

In the spring, Coli used his leverage to land an even bigger prize for Strzechowski—the seat on the General Executive Board of the International Union that was vacated by the tragic death of Local 705 President Steve Pocztowski.

Strzechowski's appointment to the GEB was a shocker and something of an insult to other Chicago Teamster leaders. Strzechowski's only Teamster experience is serving as Coli's aide and inheriting positions he lined up for her.

Strzechowski's fortunes show it's not what you know, it's who you know. Come to think of it, so do Coli's.

Coli inherited Local 727 from his father, James Coli, who was barred from the Teamsters because of organized crime accusations.

Coli has been dogged by similar charges. He famously had Hoffa fire anti-corruption czar Ed Stier to stop his investigations into corruption in the Chicago Teamsters.

Coli's checkered past hasn't kept him from eyeing the General President's chair.

Ken Hall is the Hoffa administration's presumptive heir apparent. But other officials covet the job, and not just Coli. Boston's Sean O'Brien and Northern California's Rome Aloise harbor not-so-secret ambitions of their own.

Teamster leadership should be earned, not inherited.

TDU brings members together to defend our contracts, benefits and rights. Our union needs more Teamster power builders and fewer Teamster power brokers.

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