By Kevin Galvin
Associated Press Writer
September 9, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) --
Ballots in the much-delayed Teamsters election would be counted
in the first week of December under a revised plan offered today
by a court-appointed overseer.
The plan filed with U.S. District Judge David
Edelstein in New York by election monitor Michael Cherkasky came
after the union's executive board reversed itself last month and
offered to contribute $2 million toward the cost of the vote.
Haggling between congressional Republicans
and the union over the estimated $8 million tab had forced Cherkasky
to abandon plans to mail ballots to the union's 1.4 million members
on Sept. 14. Currently, there is just over $6 million pledged
toward supervision of the contest.
``The election officer believes that the
rerun election could be supervised for the amount presently available,''
Cherkasky wrote to Edelstein, adding that he would have to trim
field staff assigned to investigating election protests.
``In order to make up for this reduction,
the election officer plans to hire two additional staff attorneys
and to streamline the protest resolution process,'' Cherkaksy
The proposal is subject to Edelstein's approval.
The rerun election was ordered after incumbent
Teamsters President Ron Carey's 1996 re-election over James P.
Hoffa was overturned. Three of Carey's campaign aides pleaded
guilty in federal court to an illegal fund-raising scheme and
the union's former political director was indicted. Carey was
barred from the rerun and expelled from the union.
Under the terms of a federal consent decree,
the 1996 contest was paid for with $17.5 million in taxpayer money.
Congressional Republicans blocked new funds for the rerun, despite
a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the government was
obligated to pay.
In July, GOP leaders in Congress said they
would allow the Justice Department to spend about $4 million to
pick up the cost of a federal board tasked with weeding out corrupt
union officials if the Teamsters would use the money that freed
up to pay for the election and put up another $4 million. Emboldened
by the appeals court ruling, the union resisted until late last
month, when it offered $2 million.
Cherkasky said that if Edelstein acted quickly
to approve his proposal, ballots would be mailed on Nov. 2 and
the vote count could begin Dec. 3.
Five slates and six independent candidates
are vying for various Teamsters offices, from trustee to general
president. The principal candidates for the union's top post are
Hoffa, son of labor legend Jimmy Hoffa, and Tom Leedham, who has
the backing of the union's reform wing.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated