Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Reformers Challenge Hoffa at Teamster Convention

By staff

Chicago Worker Richard Berg Assaulted by Mobster

Las Vegas, NV – Richard Berg, a long-time leader in the Teamster reform movement in Chicago, was assaulted at the International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On Tuesday, June 27, Berg was nominated for vice president for the central region with the Tom Leedham slate. Leedham is Jimmy Hoffa’s opponent for president.

After his nomination, Berg was punched in the mouth by Richard Lopez, recording secretary of Local 743. Lopez is the head of the official delegation from Local 743. The 743 delegation tried unsuccessfully to block Berg’s nomination.

The assault occurred one hour after the announcement that Berg had survived the challenge and would be the candidate for vice president for the Central States region.

Berg was coming out of a Leedham meeting when Lopez and his group came down the corridor. Lopez started shouting insults at Berg and then struck him in front of witnesses.

Berg has filed battery charges against Lopez. The election supervisor stated that the Las Vegas police have a warrant out to arrest Lopez. Lopez hasn’t been seen at the convention since the attack.

Tom Leedham – Strong Pensions, Good Contracts Slate

Leedham, the leader of the reform movement, has come up with an aggressive local autonomy plan that gives more power to the rank and file as well as local officers. Leedham argues that the local unions know what’s happening on the ground. This attempt to revitalize democracy within the Teamsters may get some local officers’ support but it has been bitterly opposed by Hoffa and his top-down ‘Change to Win’ cronies.

Leedham also proposed to cap the salary of the International President at $200,000 a year and allow no other officer to make more. Hoffa did not even allow discussion on this issue. The ‘Strong Pensions, Good Contracts’ slate proposal for accountability of the union pension funds was similarly shot down.

But the attack by Lopez is the first time that Hoffa’s allies have turned to violence. Lopez is likely infuriated because he is facing charges filed by the Labor Board for having stolen the Local 743 officer elections in October 2004 from Richard Berg’s slate. As a result of this, Lopez and the other officers of Local 743 are under investigation by the U.S. attorney.

Speaking from the convention hotel, Berg had this to say about the desperate attempt by Lopez. “He knows that honest Teamster leadership will put an end to the gross corruption that now exists in 743.”

#LasVegasNV #News #Teamsters #TomLeedham #RichardBerg #JimmyHoffa