October 30, 2009: Just days after hundreds of Local 848 members came to the union hall to call for Jim Santangelo to resign, he was driven out of office.
On Oct. 29, Santangelo resigned as the secretary treasurer of Local 848, the president of Southern California Joint Council 42, and International Vice President.
Santangelo’s fate was sealed on Oct. 25, when nearly 500 members attended a meeting called to explain the $500,000 settlement of a sexual harassment suit filed by a former secretary at the joint council.
According to members present at the meeting, the crowd yelled, “You gotta go!” at Santangelo. Business agent coordinator Emilio Arias reportedly told the entire meeting that Santangelo was guilty of a pattern of harassing female employees of Local 848. Joint Council 42 attorney Joe Kaplon was lambasted when he tried, in vain, to defend Santangelo.
Santangelo took $287,946 in union salaries in 2008, the maximum allowed by the Teamster constitution for that year.
Last month TDU broke the story on the big pay-out of union funds and the attempt to cover it up; click here for that report.
Santangelo’s departure did not go smoothly. Reportedly, the Local 848 executive board has installed Eric Tate as the new secretary treasurer in a quick vote. Not all e-board members were present for this critical vote, and the process is being scrutinized.
Santangelo’s departure is overdue. It 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 of sexual harassment and discrimination.
It should also serve as motivation for the members of Local 848 who have lived under Santangelo’s intimidating regime; it’s time for members to get involved and take control of their local.
What do you think? Click here to send your comments to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.