The Mob Lost This One
Ron Carey's Victory Analyzed
IPS Fall/Winter, 1996/97
The rank and file of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters won an important election victory with a vote of its membership - a victory over mob influence and a new onslaught of organized crime infiltration - and now the serious work begun by I.B.T. President-elect Ron Carey, can go forth and the remaining vestiges of organized crime can be taken on and the court-appointed independent Review Board will have a much easier task in removing corruption within this union of working men and women.
We beat the mob! pronounced Ron Carey, president of the most powerful union in the United States during this century. Carey is not just an average guy on the street. His position is an extremely powerful one and when he talks of the mob he means organized crime in every vicious and nefarious sense that America has come to know it to be. It's a part of society and in any free society it will always exist.
Speaking of his opponent, James Hoffa, Jr., the defeated Michigan attorney whose only claim to fame was and is being the son of the deceased and presumed assassinated Teamster leader who allied himself with a questionable old guard many of whom are friendly with criminal figures in an effort to regain control of the union, Carey said: It's time (for him) to get on the reform train or get the hell out of the way after his victory. Truer words could not be spoken.
The federally court-monitored independent Review Board can now pursue its work without massive interference or huge expenditures of money from the old guard within the Teamsters thwarting their efforts. The I.R.B. was assembled in 1989 after the Teamsters signed a consent decree with the U. S. Department of Justice to avoid a total takeover of the union. Part of the decree provided for the first direct election of Teamster union officers in history in addition to aggressively rooting out corruption within any locals nationwide. To date, 67 Teamster locals across the country, including Locals 705 and 714 in Chicago, have been put in a protective trusteeship. The books for 10 Chicago Locals - 714, 710, 781, 786, 738, 777, 743, 753, and 727 were thoroughly examined by auditors during the on-going investigations.
The divisive, name-calling and occasionally violent election process which was supervised and monitored by the government at an enormous cost to U. S. taxpayers of approximately $22 million, is finally and mercifully at an end. Ron Carey defeated Junior Hoffa and his anti-reform slate by a 52%-48% margin. Mr. Carey even managed to spring a stunning election surprise in Chicago - the home turf of the now ousted hustler Billy Hogan - by winning powerful Local 705 by 500 votes.
In 1993, Local 705, the largest of the Teamsters Locals in Chicago with over 16,000 members, was placed in a trusteeship and six of its officials were suspended for malfeasance. For many years this Local was controlled by Louis Peick, an ironfisted boss who derived tremendous political clout from his friendship with the late Mayor Richard J. Daley who named him to (of all places) the Chicago Police Board, and from his connections to the Governor's mansion in Springfield.
Winning 705 came as a surprise to most observers only because the major power of Junior Hoffa's campaign came out of the Chicago metropolitan area with the murky hand of mob influence being suspected at every turn.
It was a tough fight for the incumbent Carey, whose five year term of office witnessed the most ambitious anti-corruption campaign in the history of organized labor. Junior Hoffa, spent monies gotten from God knows where. he and his cohorts waged an aggressive smear campaign trying to taint Carey, the federal court, the Independent Review Board, and anyone else daring to place issue-related questions on the table. The big question that should be answered though is, where did all this money come from for Hoffa's campaign? It is extremely doubtful that Junior alone could underwrite the vast sums of money to finance the high-rolling election campaign take back moves to accomplish control of dues, pension funds, medical insurance, staff resources and the overall power of the union itself.
Indeed, Hoffa the Younger tapped his greatest strength in the industrial Midwest, where a cabal of traditionally questionable Teamsters assisted in a campaign that succeeded in manipulating allies within the public relations field and press to serve the specific purpose of returning the old guard and all its stench to power.
Some reports brushed aside the findings of the Independent Review Board with respect to politically connected Billy Hogan and his family-run Local 714 which has been removed from his control. Rather than take the maneuvering Hogan to task for the litany of sins outlined in the 122-page extract of the I.R.B. record, in some quarters Hogan was erroneously portrayed as the innocent victim of Carey's ruthlessness when it was actually a federal court calling the shots. Indeed there seems to be extreme reluctance by many in the Chicago power structure to criticize Billy Hogan and his wheeling and dealing and clout bought with political campaign contributions and favors others paid for in one way or another.
No-one in government, the leaders of civic organizations within Chicago or Illinois, and very few in the press with the exception of columnist Steve Neal who brought Billy Hogan to task in a November 27th Chicago Sun-Times opinion piece titled (Nothing to Hide?) stood up to back Carey and the work of the federal court appointed independent Review Board. The same newspaper in a to-the-point editorial criticized Ron Ver Kuilen, the politically appointed managing director of the State of Illinois Film Office for appearing at a Hogan campaign rally and implying that Billy Hogan's demise would bring a virtual end to large scale film making in Chicago and the State.
Those who are quick to credit Hogan for the foundation of the movie business industry in Chicago and who have gone on record and predicted that the Hollywood studios will not want to come to Chicago unless they can deal directly with Hogan and Local 714 are dead wrong. The movie industry in Chicago is in fact thriving - more major films are being shot on location than ever before - without Billy Hogan in the forefront of its progress.
Power sometimes breeds contempt and arrogance. And power can breed fear which little Billy always likes to use and some of his friends in life know how to administer quite well. But Billy Hogan has little of it now within the Teamsters union and in his own words, he expects to be a candidate for an indictment in the not too distant future.
The half-million members of the Teamsters Union who cast ballots in this election showed good common sense but one has to wonder about the reasoning of those who voted the Hoffa ticket and the myth of mob power benefiting the working members of the overall union. There was a high percentage vote for evil to the detriment of the overall union.
The membership should breathe a collective sigh of relief and be thankful that the mob lost this one. If the outcome had been any different, assuredly, Chicago mob boss Joey Lombardo and his criminal allies on the East Coast and across the country would have again been the behind the scenes masters of this union - not Junior Hoffa, the empty suit masquerading as a labor leader. They would wield power through murder, intimidation, arson and the constant threat of violence. As once said; the past is prologue.
Lombardo, a feared mob enforcer who received necessitated attention of the Chicago authorities back in 1963 when he operated a dice game on Grand Avenue, went to prison in 1982 for bribery, conspiracy, and wire fraud. He conspired with former Teamster President, Roy Williams to bribe former Nevada Senator Howard Cannon to block a trucking deregulation bill. Four years later, he was sent to Leavenworth on a far more serious matter.
Teamster pension loans built and expanded many of the casinos along the famous Las Vegas Strip including the Stardust where much of the action went down in the old days. Mob influence allowed a front man by the name of Allen Glick to obtain $87.75 million in loans from the Teamsters Union Central States Pension fund to build the casinos that were to become a valuable cash asset for organized crime in Chicago and elsewhere.
Millions of dollars were skimmed by the Chicago mob from the counting rooms inside the casinos in what the F.B.I. codenamed Operation Pendorf and Strawman cases.
In 1986, Lombardo was convicted in Kansas City with his Cicero-headquartered boss Joey Aiuppa, a fellow mobsters Jackie Cerone, and Angelo LaPietra for using his influence to assist in the skim. Many of the historic facts of these cases that formed the basis of the recent Hollywood movie Casino.
Joey Lombardo was sentenced to 16 years for this crime against the working men and women who paid into the Central States Pension Fund.
Though he was never indicted on a charge of murder, few within the law enforcement community doubt that Lombardo played a major role in several notorious gangland hits in Chicago including the 1973 slaying of Richard Cain, former chief investigator for the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department; the murder of mob witness and Bensenville businessman Donald Seifert in 1974; and the 1983 rubbout of Allen Dorfman which made national news and was of such importance that Ted Koppel's Nightline show on ABC-TV devoted a whole segment to the assassination itself. Dorfman was the mob's hand-picked guy and Lombardo's erstwhile friend and behind the scenes overseer to the Teamsters union's Central States Pension Fund and medical insurance programs until he appeared to be on the verge of just being in the possible position of talking about his mob pals to the government. Then whether he did or didn't talk, he had to be taken care of - and was - outside the Lincolnwood Hyatt Hotel, brutally and swiftly. He was murdered in the parking lot.
Though he is on parole until 1999 and has thus far managed to keep a low profile over since he gained his release in 1992, Joey Lombardo is viewed as the boss of the Chicago outfit by many. This despite his firm denials and well publicized classified ad he took out in a Chicago newspaper a few years ago declaring himself to be crime free. The precise role he played in assisting Junior Hoffa during this contentious campaign can only be surmised.
The son of the infamous Teamsters President stated that he would have returned much authority back to the Locals - authority which Mr. Carey under direction of a federal court placed in trusteeship and replaced the regional leadership in the interests of removing the stigma of corruption and organized crime connections from a union of working people. Had this not been done, a complete takeover of the union by the government to rid the union of corruption and mob ties would have taken place.
The power of the Chicago outfit historically as a behind-the-scenes mover and shaker cannot be ignored or dismissed. Much is achieved with a gun and kind word - and not just a kind word alone is their way of conducting affairs to achieve results. One wonders how it was possible for Hogan and Junior Hoffa to summon a small band of unknowns to his Teamsters rallies and marches in the streets of Chicago's Chinatown area and at demonstrations for media purposes at the Kluczylinski Federal Building at the very time Hogan was being removed from control of Local 714 and it being placed in trusteeship? Anyone believing that all the burly, profane marching men with fists held aloft in lock-step with Billy Hogan were hard-working truck drivers and laborers rallying to the just cause of a respected leader of working men and women would be naive to say the least? Were these marchers possibly friends of Joey Lombardo from the infamous 26th Street area - brought out to give Hogan the illusion of strength in numbers? These people surrounding Junior Hoffa and Hogan were not just your average work-a-day guys taking a day off to support these men - that's for sure.
The mob was defeated - that's for now - just for now. The progress toward reform within the Teamsters Union will continue, at least for another five years but the wise guys will be constantly awaiting future opportunities and negating clean up efforts every chance they can get.
One must bear in mind that the mob simply will not back away from a lucrative revenue stream - such as the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund and vastly growing medical insurance programs which the crime bosses in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Kansas City and all over the country for that matter used as their own personal piggy bank in the 1980s. The Pendorf and Strawman cases brought about by the meritorious efforts of excellent street F.B.I. agents such as Pete Wacks and others like him in the Chicago office and various law enforcement people bear witness to the historic and unbending strength of organized crime's deep roots within the Teamsters Union. The rank-and-file sent a clear and powerful message in this election for the moment, and that is, they want those days to be over with - but then there are a lot of people that don't and they do not give up easily and they never go away.
Those that want a clean union fighting for its members must also bear in mind that the price of reform is eternal vigilance and they must always keep their guard up and make their presence felt.
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