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Chicago: Richard Berg and New Leadership Slate Win Teamster 743 Local Election

By Josh Sykes

NLS group happy after election victory.

Chicago, IL – A cheer rang out Oct. 22 as the U.S. Department of Labor announced the winners of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) officers’ election for Local 743. Richard Berg and the 743 New Leadership Slate beat the incumbent Ford-Galvan Unity Slate. After twelve years of difficult and sometimes frustrating campaigning, a new day is dawning in Local 743.

Since its founding, Local 743 has seen a tremendous amount of mob-related corruption. Don Peters ruled the union without any elections until he was banned in 1987. Robert Simpson was appointed his replacement and served as president until he too was banned in 1995. The 743 New Leadership Slate was formed so that the members could fight back against this corruption and collaboration with the bosses.

After the 743 New Leadership Slate won the October 2004 election, the incumbent officials called a ‘do-over’ election in December. Former 743 old-guard president Richard Lopez, along with Mark Jones, Cassandra Mosely and David Rodriques are now being charged with embezzlement for diverting ballots to friends and family members who were not eligible to vote, in order to steal the do-over election from the New Leadership Slate three years ago. It looks like more indictments may be yet to come. This election has removed these corrupt officials from power and given the members and their slate control of the union.

Union members and volunteers have worked around the clock, visiting work sites and talking to workers. President-elect Richard Berg said, “We waged this campaign by gathering together workers who wanted to fight, who wanted to take back the union to fight the boss. The members of 743 built this campaign because we could no longer stand aside while this do-nothing, company union continued to dig us into a hole.”

With the supervision of the Department of Labor in conducting this election, the incumbent officials weren’t able to cheat quite as much this time around. There were reports of underhanded dealings, however. New Leadership Slate trustee Joe Sexauer said, “Union workers at a nursing home reported that the Ford-Galvan Slate and their supporters were asking members to turn their ballots into them, saying they would, ‘take care of them.’ We know this wasn’t the only place this happened.” Despite all of this the New Leadership Slate was able to mobilize the voices of the members and win the election.

The newly elected officers will take office in January. Richard Berg said, “We need to make this union work for the members. For too long this union has worked for the companies and the mob. We need more stewards and we need more steward elections. We need to train better business agents and we need to educate the membership as to their rights.”

Larry Davis, vice-president-elect, said, “We are going to make 743 into a union the members can be proud of, a fighting union that is looking out for them. The members’ victory today was only the first step. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we are up to the challenge.”

Rich Berg of the 743 New Leadership Slate, new president of Teamsters Local 743.

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