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Corrupt Teamster leader John Coli faces federal charges for extorting $100,000

By Tom Burke

Chicago, IL – John Coli, president of Joint Council 25 of the Teamsters Union, was indicted July 12 on federal charges that he extorted $100,000 in cash from a local business.

A big supporter of Teamster President James Hoffa Jr., John Coli was taking cash payoffs of $25,000 every three months in exchange for not calling work stoppages and other labor unrest. Apparently Coli, who made more than $330,000 per year from three official union positions, needed another outside source of income.

The Teamster Local 727 website posted that Coli plans to retire from the Secretary-Treasurer position at the end of the month. Coli’s son, John Jr. is the president of Local 727.

Coli was the head of Joint Council 25, representing more than 100,000 workers in and around Chicago. Despite this, Coli was defeated last year in an election for Teamsters international vice president for the Central Region.

Teamsters United, a reform slate, gained leadership posts in that regional election. Teamsters United campaigns on opposing corruption and winning strong contracts with raises for workers.

“John Coli abused the Teamsters for far too long. He is a parasite. Coli took multiple salaries and put his family on the Teamster payroll. Teamsters United opposes this corruption that sells out our members,” said David Bernt, a rank-and-file union member from Chicago and candidate for International Trustee.

Bernt offers, “In the short term nothing structurally will change. Coli’s son John Jr. is taking over his local. Coli’s closest personal ally Becky Strzechowski will take over the Joint Council. Other corrupt officials will be pushing and shoving for their positions.”

He continues, “However, the takedown of Coli hits Hoffa Jr. hard. Members hate corruption and the givebacks and sellouts at contract time. Backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the reform movement is rising to take power from ineffective and corrupt officials who are killing the unions. We need leaders who are prepared to do battle for the upcoming UPS contract.”

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