June 25, 1998
By Peter Szekely
WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) - A special
monitor on Thursday asked a court to order the federal government
and the Teamsters union to work out a deal to pay for oversight
of the union's upcoming election -- or hold it without supervision.
Declaring that he will be unable to hold
the election on schedule unless a funding dispute is resolved
by next week, court-appointed Election Officer Michael Cherkasky
District Court Judge David Edelstein to order
the government and the union to come up with a joint payment plan
If the two sides still are unable to agree
on a plan to pay for the oversight of the September election,
a rerun of the 1996 contest that was ruled invalid, Cherkasky
said the union should be ordered to hold it without oversight
by his office.
"It would be astounding, and a stunning
waste of decades of effort spent fighting organised crime and
labour racketeering, if the current paralysis over funding resulted
in the abandonment of this law enforcement effort and left the
rerun election in limbo," he said in papers filed with the
Cherkasky said his office needs $8.6 million
to print, mail and count ballots that are due to be sent on Sept.
14 to 1.4 million members of the International Brotherhood of
Although Congress voted last year to bar
the use of taxpayer money to pay for the rerun after about $18
million was spent on the 1996 contest, a U.S. Court of Appeals
ruled earlier this year that if the government wants the election
supervised, it must pay for it.
The ruling has set up a standoff between
the government's legislative and executive branches on the one
hand, and the judicial branch on the other, which ruled that the
union is not required to fund the oversight of its election.
For its part, the Teamsters union gave no
hint that it would agree to a joint payment deal with the government.
"The (union) expects the government
to comply with the appeals court's ruling and to proceed with
the election as scheduled under federal supervision," it
said in a statement.
After decades of corruption investigations,
the Justice Department filed an anti-racketeering suit against
the union 10 years ago, which was settled in a 1989 consent decree
that set up layers of court-administered oversight of the union.
Included in the decree were requirements
that the Teamsters union would pay for the oversight of its first-ever
election open to the rank and file in 1991 and that the government
would pay for oversight of the 1996 contest, which they did.
But the 1996 election, in which union President
Ron Carey narrowly defeated challenger James Hoffa, was thrown
out by Cherkasky's predecessor after the discovery
of scheme that illegally funnelled money from the union's treasury
into Carey's campaign coffers.
Carey, now on unpaid leave, has since been
barred from running in the rerun election after another overseer
found that he had a hand in the scheme. Carey has denied any wrongdoing.
In papers filed with Edelstein in New York,
Cherkasky said the unresolved funding issue has left his office
unable to make contracts with vendors.
Printing, stuffing and mailing the ballots
alone would cost nearly $700,000, almost all of the funds the
election officer currently has, he said. Unless the ballot paper
is purchased by July 1, the vendor has said it cannot meet the
election timetable, Cherkasky added.
Even without the additional expense of overseeing
the election, Cherkasky said his office will run out of money
around the end of September.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.