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Teamster Reformers Win First Round

By staff

Chicago, IL – “We are making history,” said Teamster activist Antonio Caldera, “we are going to change the Teamsters and we are going to change the entire labor movement.” Caldera is one of many Teamsters across North America who collected signatures in support of union presidential contender Tom Leedham.

Leedham is the Teamster reform movement's candidate for General President. The reform movement, lead by Teamster for a Democratic Union (TDU), is looking to energize rank-and-file Teamsters to overthrow the current corrupt leadership.

“The Teamsters belongs to the members. We can't allow union officials that only care about their big salaries and personal power to dominate our union,” Leedham told Adelante (TDU's Spanish language newspaper), “By standing together, we can win better contracts for the members and a better future for our families.”

Teamster activists recently finished a petition drive in support of Tom Leedham and his Rank & File Power Slate. 35,000 signatures were needed to give the reform slate official recognition. Leedham supporters collected over 60,000 signatures. This accomplishment allows Leedham free space in the October issue of Teamster Magazine, which is mailed to all Teamsters.

The incumbent slate, headed by the infamous Jimmy Hoffa Jr., was found guilty of using resources paid for with union members' dues money. “This sort of corruption is common with these old-guard officials,” said Chicago Local 743 activist Maimi Burrell, “they think nothing of rigging an election for steward, delegate or local officers. In this case they cheated on gathering signatures. They are crooked, and that's why we are going to get rid of them.”

The Election Administrator for the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters ruled that Hoffa would have to start his petition drive over.

The next important battleground will be the election of delegates to the union's International Convention to be held in June 2001. At the convention, candidates will be nominated. Then the race is on, with the final vote in the fall of 2001.

“Are you with the workers, or are you with the bosses? The difference between us and them is that striking,” said Chicago Leedham supporter Richard Berg, “2001 will be a big year for us in the Teamsters. We need to work hard now to put this great union in the hands of the workers.”

Many reformers will be attending the TDU convention November 3-5 in Cleveland, Ohio.

For more information contact TDU: (313) 842-2600

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