The New York Times

Official Overseeing Teamsters Election Seeks Vote in September

May 7, 1998

The official overseeing the teamsters' union election to fill out the term of its suspended president proposed yesterday that the voting begin on Sept. 14.

The court-appointed election overseer, Michael Cherkasky, suggested the schedule to Judge David N. Edelstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan. If Judge Edelstein approves the schedule, ballots will be mailed to the union's 1.4 million members in July.

The election will see James P. Hoffa run again for the office he narrowly lost last year to Ron Carey, who has been barred from running again because of accusations that he was involved in a scheme to siphon more than $850,000 in union money into his campaign coffers. In the rerun, Hoffa, who is considered the favorite, is likely to face Ken Hall, who is expected to be the candidate of the group that backed Carey.

Hall, 41, of Charleston, W.Va., played a leading role in the union's successful strike against United Parcel Service last summer.

The schedule proposed by Cherkasky calls for delegates to the union's last convention to receive nominating ballots on June 15. If 90 of those 1,800 delegates indicate that they support Hall, he will be on the ballot.

The schedule calls for the nominating ballots to be counted on June 29 and would allow the nominees to name their slates for other positions on July 13. After that, an election notice would be posted at all union work places on Aug. 27, as well as being published in the teamsters' official magazine, the Reuters news service reported. At the same time ballots would be printed.

Those ballots would be mailed on Sept. 14 for return by Oct. 14, when counting would begin.

Cherkasky ruled last week that Hoffa could remain in the race despite having engaged in improprieties in the 1996 campaign.

Cherkasky said that he was loath to disqualify candidates because it limited union members' right to choose.

In another matter linked to the accusations against the Carey campaign, The Associated Press reported that the Congressman heading an investigation into accusations of labor corruption yesterday urged the No. 2 official of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to resign for refusing to testify about the campaign.

The representative, Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, told the official, Richard L. Trumka, in a letter that he should step down for invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to testify against himself in refusing to discuss with the committee -- or even the federation's president, John Sweeney -- accusations that the A.F.L.-C.I.O. had been used to launder money for Carey's campaign.

"The Fifth Amendment does not mean that the labor movement must see no evil or hear no evil merely because an individual union official, to avoid giving testimony which may send him to jail, refuses to answer questions before a public body," Hoekstra said, citing an A.F.L.-C.I.O. ethics code.

"I encourage you to do what is best for the entire labor movement and resign from your position as secretary-treasurer or take a leave of absence until the cloud surrounding your involvement in the illegalities associated with the teamsters election dissipates," wrote Hoekstra, who heads the House Education and the Workforce subcommittee on investigations.

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company

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