Teamsters in Puerto Rico Demand Democracy

March 19, 2010: Teamster members in Puerto Rico demonstrated outside their union demanding new elections in Local 901.

Members rallied at the union hall and tried to present a petition to the Executive Board. Local 901 officials locked the doors and hired armed security guards to keep members out of their union.

The press called the move a “coup d’etat in the union.” If that sounds extreme, consider the extreme circumstances in Local 901.

Germán Vázquez was removed from his position as Secretary-Treasurer after being found guilty by an internal union panel of taking more than $72,000 in unauthorized salary increases. But the Local 901 officials who did nothing to stop Vazquez’s unauthorized pay hikes kept their positions and installed Alexis Rodriguez as the new secretary-treasurer.

The Department of Labor is already suing Local 901 for election violations, charging that the local ran the 2008 vote to illegally favor the incumbents. And the National Labor Relations Board has charged local officials with retaliating against members for supporting the reform candidates for union office.

“When they removed Germán, they didn’t remove the corruption from our union,” Jose Budet told the media. “The corruption is inside our union with [the officials]. They represent themselves, their pockets; and the employers of this country. They don’t represent the Teamsters. The Teamsters are here in the street demanding elections.”

“A vote should be held immediately to return our union to the members,” said TDU member Mara Quiara. “The future of Local 901 is at stake.”

Click here to read an earlier TDU report: Teamsters in Puerto Rico Unite for Change.

Click here to watch TV coverage in Spanish of the demonstration.

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