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Fools or Thieves

Teamster 743 Hacks Under Fire

by staff |
July 1, 2001
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Sign says "Rateros"
Above:
Workers blast "Local 743 Thieves" (Fight Back! News)
Christine Royster head shot
Protest sign
Right:
Local 743 Contender For V.P. of I.B.T. Chicago - As we go to press, the 743 New Leadership Slate's Christine Royster (pictured above) announced that she will be a candidate for International Vice President on the Tom Leedham Rank & File Power Slate. (Fight Back! News)
Left:
Local 743 members protest $16 million missing from Health and Welfare Fund (Fight Back! News)

Chicago, IL - For the members of Teamsters Local 743, being sold out by their union officials is a commonplace event. Rigged votes on contracts, rigged votes for union stewards, back room deals with the boss around grievances and contract issues is the normal state of affairs.

But this time union officials had gone too far. They said the money was gone - $16 million. Many workers suspected theft. This money was supposed to cover the health care costs of Local 743 members and their families. The Local 743 Health and Welfare Fund was the health insurance for thousands of Teamsters working at dozens of workplaces.

Whether because of incompetence or theft, the money was gone. The health care coverage was being drastically reduced or eliminated with little or no notice at all. Some workers could no longer afford their prescription drugs, some had to stop dental procedures before they were completed, and pregnant spouses were left wondering how they could ever pay for the upcoming delivery.

Hacks Under Fire

Hundreds of Local 743 members showed up early for the regular June meeting. They set up a picket line calling for the resignation of the Local 743 Executive Board. The unity of the diverse membership was shown by signs and chants in English, Spanish and Polish. "Why won't you honor the contract that you negotiated?" Flextek union steward Edwin Soto demanded. Workers from Bagcraft wanted to know why Secretary Treasurer Robert Walston had forced a Health and Welfare Fund that was going bankrupt on them.

Worker after worker went to the microphone to demand answers. Local 743 Vice President Jose Galvin would only say "Talk to your business agent after the meeting." Workers shouted they wanted answers now.

Finally, Robert Walston, chairman of the Local 743 Health and Welfare Fund, reluctantly came to the microphone and told a story of how the Fund had been mismanaged. He failed to mention how his allies, Chester Glanton and Local 743 Recording Secretary Richard Lopez, had been in charge of the insurance plan when all the money disappeared. He also failed to mention the deals that he and other Local 743 business agents made with employers that allowed the Fund to go broke.

University of Chicago clerical worker Kathy Kleckner took the microphone after Walston's sob story, "Brother Walston, you have just told us a story of your own incompetence. I think you and the entire executive board should resign immediately." This statement brought thunderous cheers of approval and dozens more workers went to the microphone to demand justice.

The old-guard union officials could take no more. They abruptly adjourned the meeting, against the will of the overwhelming majority present. They had shown disrespect and contempt for the Local 743 members who pay their salaries. With workers still shouting at them, they rushed off the stage. They turned out the lights with many workers still in the hall.

"They disrespect us the same as the boss does," explained Cesar Sosa. "The workers see them for what they are now. They have taken our health insurance, they negotiate only pennies in raises and they pay themselves huge salaries." Cesar Sosa is part of the opposition. He was recently elected delegate to the 2001 Teamsters International Convention as part the 743 New Leadership Slate. The 743 New Leadership Slate is looking to change the corrupt union from top to bottom.

Local 743 Gangsters

 
The Health and Welfare Fund was founded in the 1950's and administered by the infamous mobster Alan Dorfman. Dorfman was murdered while out on bail with then Teamster President Roy Williams and mafia hitman Joey "the Clown" Lombardo. Following Dorfman's death, his son David took over administering the Fund. When Teamster reformer Ron Carey took power, he placed the local in trusteeship. The fund stayed healthy until Hoffa/Dorfman associate Chester Glanton was elected President of Local 743.

Time for Change

Just after the union meeting, Local 743 President Chester Glanton resigned. Secretary Treasurer Robert Walston has replaced him. "This is no change at all," said 743 New Leadership Slate member Richard Berg, "They are all part of the same Hoffa Take Back Slate, the slate that took back health insurance and took back decent wage increases. We can't afford to let them take back anymore. It is time for Hoffa, Walston, Lopez and all the rest to go."

Tony Caldera, a worker at the Frederick Cooper Lamp factory and also an elected delegate on the 743 New Leadership Slate agreed, "It is time for the old guard to go." That is why the 743 New Leadership Slate is going to support reformer Tom Leedham for International President this fall and run a slate locally against the old guard.

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