Earlier this week, we registered a pre-election protest and then a complaint with Teamsters Joint Council 39. Why? Because the Wedan-Rademacher slate threatened on their website that if members vote against them, the IBT will retaliate and may dissolve our local union. They write,
Mr. Sernatinger has publicly criticized our International Leadership online, and they are well aware of this fact. Every decision from how our paperwork is filed to whether or not this Local exists is decided by the International, which is why strong ties and good relationships with the International are important to keep the Members First.”
As we wrote to Secretary-Treasurer Larry Wedan, this is both false and desperate.
You cannot threaten members. It is prohibited conduct and explicitly named out as the basis for charges in the Teamsters union.
The IBT Constitution Article XIX Section 7 subsection B-10 plainly states:
“The basis for charges against members, officers, elected Business Agents, Local Unions, Joint Councils, or other subordinate bodies for which he or it shall stand trial shall consist of, but not be limited to, the following:
10). Retaliating or threatening to retaliate against any member for exercising rights under this Constitution or applicable law including the right to speak, vote, seek election to office, support the candidate of one’s choice, or participate in the affairs of the Union.”
Allowing this kind of behavior has a chilling effect on union democracy.
Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien spoke out against retaliation for his criticism of outgoing President Hoffa in last year’s televised debates with Steve Vairma. His point was that criticism was necessary to create a stronger union. We agree.