Saturday, November 21, 1998
J. McCarthy, 79, national general president of the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters during the union's battle with the federal
government over racketeering allegations in the late 1980s, died
Nov. 19 at a hospital here. The cause of death was not reported.
Mr. McCarthy, the last of the Teamsters leaders
chosen without a vote of union members, became president of the
union's 7,000-member Local No. 25 in Boston in 1955 and served
in that post for 35 years. He was named a vice president of the
national Teamsters union in 1969 and president of the national
union in 1988.
He was accused of seeking Mafia help in an
unsuccessful 1984 bid to be appointed to the second-highest position
in the union. The allegation came from the late Jackie Presser,
who was Mr. McCarthy's predecessor and an undercover FBI informant.
Mr. McCarthy denied the accusations, and the case was dropped.
After he became general president in 1988,
Mr. McCarthy agreed to a 1989 settlement between the Teamsters
and the government calling for federal oversight of the group's
activities. The settlement kept a federal racketeering lawsuit,
which asserted that Teamster leaders had made a "devil's
pact" with the mob, from going to trial.
Mr. McCarthy said at the time that he was
reluctantly agreeing to the settlement but that what the union
really deserved was "vindication and exoneration" from
the government's corruption claims.
Citing personal reasons, he declined to run
in the union's federally supervised 1991 national election, the
first rank and-file election in the Teamsters' 90-year history.
Some 1.6 million members were eligible to vote.
Previous Teamsters presidents had been elevated
to the top job by a small group of union insiders.
The candidate backed by Mr. McCarthy lost
the election to reform candidate Ron Carey, who later fell victim
to his own scandal and was ousted.
Mr. McCarthy sought reelection as president
of Local 25 in 1991, but he, too, lost to a reform candidate.
Survivors include his wife; four children; a brother; and 11 grandchildren.