December 18, 2009: For years, Jim Santangelo ruled Joint Council 42 with an iron fist. But when Santangelo used union resources to settle a sexual harassment suit against him, hundreds of members organized and forced him to resign.
Until this Fall, Santangelo was one of the most powerful and well-paid Teamster officials in the union: the principal officer of Local 848, the head of southern California Joint Council 42, and one of Hoffa’s International VPs. He made $317,398 in total compensation last year.
For years, he threatened members in his local that they would lose their jobs if they spoke out against him or his contracts.
Then in September, TDU.org broke the news that Santangelo settled a sexual harassment suit from one of his clerical staff for $500,000. Santangelo didn’t pay one cent of the settlement even though he admitted to outrageous misconduct.
Santangelo tried to keep the settlement quiet, and JC 42 officials congratulated him on his years of service. 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 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.”This story is the first in a series of TDU. Check back to read more about other Teamsters who made a difference in 2009. You can help TDU members keep making a difference in 2010. Click here to join TDU and support our work.