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Teamster Showdown Nears

by Kathy Kleckner |
October 1, 1998
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In a few weeks, members of the largest union in the United States, the Teamsters, will be voting to elect new leaders. This election will effect the whole American labor movement.

There are only 2 slates of candidates running and the difference between them is great. The difference is basically between a member-driven, fight-for-workers kind of union or the kind of union where leaders just get rich off of members' dues and cozy up to management.

Tom Leedham is running for president and is heading up the progressive, rank-and-file slate. Leedham has made it very clear why he's running for president: he wants to involve and move members to action to win better contracts, stop giving union money to politicians, organize the unorganized, defend union democracy and limit the salaries of union officers.

In the working people's struggle to build good, strong organizations in the U.S., a victory for the Leedham slate would be a historical event. The Leedham slate stands to be the most representative group of union leaders in U.S. history. It would include the most people of color and women in top union leadership ever.

The other slate is led by Jimmy Hoffa, Jr., a millionaire lawyer who has never had a job like you and me but is riding on the legend of his father and the idea that a blow-hard like himself, no matter how corrupt and lazy he may be, will somehow "take care of the members."

Hoffa has appeal to those who don't understand that power comes from a united, organized and mobilized membership and who believe there is an easy way to win better pay, benefits and rights on the job without members being active and leading the union's agenda.

As this paper goes to print, Teamster members are expected to start getting their ballots in the mail on November 3rd. Counting of the ballots is planned for December 3rd.

Kathy Kleckner is Former President of AFSCME Local 3800, University of Minnesota Clerical Workers.

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