A friend in the local labor movement sent this to Rebuild695 after learning about us. There’s long history in Local 695, efforts to change the unions running back decades, and things that happened that still affect us today. Found it a fascinating read. -Rebuild


By Henry W. Haslach, Jr. (1976)

Future successes of the labor movement may be as much determined by the local unions in small industrial towns as those in big city heavy industry. It is the unorganized, newly industrialized towns, new homes of runaway shops and of new workers fleeing the farms, which present the biggest opportunity to build from scratch militant and democratic local unions. In Madison, Wisconsin, the resulting struggle between left unionists, Democratic Party liberals, and conservative unionists rolled over Teamster local 695 like the blast of a hailstorm through a Wisconsin cornfield, ending in a fourteen month trusteeship imposed on 695 and the birth of a militant rank and file movement, Teamsters for Democracy (TfD).

Madison, Wisconsin, is in the center of some of the best black dirt farmland in America; it is also the home of Teamster local 695. Madison is surrounded by small towns with isolated manufacturing plants, small trucking firms, and, most importantly, food processing plants. Teamster local 695 has jurisdiction over this vast area covering most of Southern and Southwestern Wisconsin. Madison has long been a source of energy for American liberalism.

It voted by nearly a two thirds majority for George McGovern in the 1972 Presidential election; but it is not a union town. Most workers are employed in scattered factories or in white collar jobs with the University of Wisconsin, the State government or insurance companies. The major industrial plant is the Oscar Meyer Meat Packing Company, whose workers are represented by the Amalgamated Meatcutters Union. Teamsters local 695 organized and represents truck drivers, warehousemen, municipal employees, and food industry workers.

In this milieu local 695 concentrated on organizing, strict enforcement of contracts and militant bargaining backed up by strikes supported fully by the local. To survive, the local had to deliver because there was no long standing union tradition to encourage union membership. At the time of the trusteeship, the leadership was progressive; the Secretary-Treasurer, the top elected officer, was one of the first unionists to publicly oppose the war in Vietnam, long before other labor leaders were forced by economic issues to take an anti-war stance. The local leadership was not afraid to work with area leftists in building strike support, and often encouraged its members not to cross the picket lines of striking independent unions.

The militant strike activity and vigorous organizing was opposed by both the conservative unionists in 695 and the Madison liberal newspaper, The Capital Times. The unholy alliance of the two succeeded in bringing a trusteeship on local 695 in November of 1973. The Capital Times began its life as the newspaper of the Wisconsin Progressive Party of “Fighting” Bob LaFollette. It carries on that therefore they should get more of the fruits of their work.

The Teamsters Union could deliver them the most benefits. Mueller retired in 1967 because of poor health but stayed involved in the local; his successor as Secretary-Treasurer, Don Eaton, fit the same mold except that he was a political liberal and believed more in devoting the full resources of the local to organizing and helping the members. The conflict between Mueller and Eaton over the proper direction of the local was the internal basis for the imposition of the trusteeship. As one member put it, when Mueller retired he wanted a puppet in his old office that he could control. Eaton was no puppet. This local conflict in itself was not enough to interest the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). But the Wisconsin International Representative, Frank Ranney, who came out of Milwaukee Local 200, had long been fighting with local 695, especially over some disputed area lying in 695’s jurisdiction next to local 200’s area which local 200 wanted.

Local 695’s troubles with the International had begun in earnest just after Frank Fitzsimmons took the Presidency of the IBT from Jimmy Hoffa, It is ironic that the liberal Kennedy crusade which drove Hoffa from the Teamsters helped set the stage for the eventual destruction Pat one of the politically liberal local union leaderships in the country.

Gene Machkovitz, former local 695 Business Agent and now a mechanic for California Canners and Growers, a 695 shop in a small town about forty miles from Madison, recalls at least three separate conflicts with the International before the one leading to the trusteeship. Machkovitz, now in his forties, is a no-nonsense unionist, who thinks about where his union is going; he was selected as a Business Agent by Don Eaton when Eaton was Mueller’s assistant because of his militancy as a shop steward. Machkovitz physically fits the Teamster stereotype: big and tough.

Just after Fitzsimmons took office, Local 695 was organizing the Madison Bus Company, which at that time was privately owned and was represented by the AFL-C10’s Amalgamated Transit Workers Union. Machkovitz said, “We got a Letter from Frank Fitzsimmons saying get out. Mueller who was then Secretary-Treasurer said there wasn’t any no raid pact, Mueller told him to go to hell and I guess that’s when we started falling from favor with the International because those guys just don’t like to be told that by locals.” Local 695 did win the resulting representation election and still has contracts for the bus company.

Later when Eaton had assumed the office of Secretary-Treasurer, the local was approached by men from Chicago to put the local’s health insurance in Paul Dorffman’s Amalgamated Insurance Company. Dorffman has been associated with the Teamster’s Central States Council headed by Ray Schoessling. Local 695 has its own health and welfare fund and so does not partidpate in the Teamster’s Central States fund, 695 refused to go along with this plan to get their funds under the control of Chicago interests. Then the Chicagoans “wanted £ASxtexhuy to get 695 members to buy shares in a mutual fund of some kind”, according to Machkovitz, but Eaton refused to give them a list of the 695 members and so earned more of Chicago’s hostility for this lack of cooperation.

The last straw which occurred after Fitzsimmons ‘became one of Nixon’s major public ‘supporters, was an anti-Vietnam war resolution calling on Fitzsimmons to oppose the war, which local 695 introduced at a Wisconsin Joint Council of Teamsters meeting in 1972. Before they presented the resolution they had gotten the ok from the President of the Joint Council, As Machkovitz tells it, “Jim Marketti, a Business Agent for 695, wrote this resolution to get out of Vietnam and presented it to the Joint Council and Frank Ranney wasn’t there”. Ranney is the International’s Representative in Wisconsin and is well known in Wisconsin as a Republican, “Frank Ranney got there the next day, and he was madder than hell. He said it didn’t sound like a union meeting; it sounded more like a bunch of college kids or a bunch of hippies. He was pretty pissed about it”. The resolution was then sent on to Fitzsimmons; but at the next Council meeting three months later, after some arm twisting by Ranney, the resolution was reconsidered and repealed, Machkovitz said they had the rank and file’s support on this motion in 1972. “You’re representing working people. And I think working people weren’t too hot on the mess we were in. either.”


It was around Jim Marketti, the man who wrote the anti-Vietnam war resolution, that the incidents which brought in the cold wind of the trusteeship swirled, Many of the attacks on union militancy were focused on Marketti, who was later to be one of the founders of Teamsters for Democracy. Marketti was brought up in the conservative but unionized paper mill towns of the Fox River Valley in Northern Wisconsin. Before he was twenty years old he had held a Carpenter’s Union card while working in Weyerhauser’s Neenah, Wisconsin, facility and then had been a shop steward in the Utility Operators Union at the Wisconsin-Michigan Power Company in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Marketti decided to try his hand at college after service in the marines and spent some time as a graduate student in Industrial Relations. In 1970, Marketti was one of the organizers and contract bargainers for the new Teaching Assistants Union at the University of Wisconsin. Local 695 refused to cross the picket lines of this independent union (now American Federation of Teachers local 3220) during its five week strike for a first contract, cutting off many truck deliveries to the campus as well as the campus bus service.

Such support by 695 was an integral part of the Teaching Assistants Union’s success. As a result of this association, Marketti was hired by 695 as an organizer and business agent. Marketti brought two benefits to 695 beyond his excellent organizing and administrative abilities. He had personal contacts with many factions of the left in Madison. This enabled 695 to draw on the left’s organizing skills and energy. Marketti also had his University experience which he described, “I learned three lessons, First, I read enough theory to understand that bourgeois labor economics is pure bunk. Second, I read enough  history to understand that working people never accomplish anything in America without a struggle. Third, I found that the law, modern management techniques and the business union ideology are designed for one purpose – to keep workers in their place.”

Markettl was soon called in by many groups of young workers in non-union industries who wanted to organize, With Marketti as the conduit and focal point, local 695 delivered the power which grows out of halting truck deliveries at picket lines, the left brought energy, contacts and organizing ability, and many workers responded. The face of the labor movement in Madison took an extremely militant turn, much to the chagrin of the liberals institutionally represented by the Capital Times newspaper, and local businessmen institutionally represented by the police and legal machinery.

The combination of 695 support for independent strikes, the progressiveness of Marketti, and the influx of young workers who had been exposed to leftist thought and action in Madison gave the impetus to the organizing. This energy broke the psychological set of many workers who had been taught to stay in their place and who had been discouraged by the slow moving labor movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. Successful organizing of a union first requires the energy and will to do the job.

Strong strike support campaigns by local citizen groups gave even more impetus to the young worker’s efforts to organize and to win good contracts, The left citizen groups helped in several ways. Marketti said that “there is a sizable left community in Madison composed of ex-students and youth culture-oriented workers who work primarily in unorganized shops. I have found them to be the most militant union organizers inside the plants”, In terms of strike support once a shop was organized, Marketti said, “The largest single pool of scab labor in the community comes from University students. The left had great influence on these people to keep them from scabbing”.

Strong citizen support instead of the usual public vilification gave much encouragement to strikes. The primary left-wing support came in the form of consumer boycotts. Under the labor laws a union cannot sponsor a direct total boycott of a business which buys from a struck company, All the union can do is to put informational pickets outside the business asking customers not to buy the struck goods. But the support groups set up their own total boycotts of such companies. Marketti said, “Real boycott power is to request the customer, particularly worker-consumers, not to patronize the business at all. That puts real pressure on the bastard to get rid of scab goods, Successful total boycotts scared the business community and so we had Judges trying, with no basis in law, to bring these groups under the national labor laws by fiat.”

These activities came to a head in the General Beverage strike, which lasted from November 1972 to March 1973. The strike involved the warehousemen and drivers for a liquor distributor, General Beverage. Since General Beverage was the first liquor distributor organized in the area in many years and the largest, the settlement there would set the pattern for distributors in much of Southern Wisconsin. It soon became clear that this meant the strike would be long and difficult since not only were the owners unwilling to concede anything and hired a Milwaukee union busting lawyer to represent them but neither were the young and militant workers willing to settle for anything but a decent contract.

In response to the intransigence of the management, Madison area retail liquor stores were asked by citizen groups not to buy from General Beverage. Those who continued to carry General Beverage goods were picketed and as a result suffered a serious loss of business. The liquor stores answered with a mutual aid pact among themselves which guaranteed financial support to any boycotted dealer threatened with bankruptcy.


Much of the picketing was co-o¢rdinated by the Wisconsin Alliance, a left political party centered primarily in Madison at that time. It has over the last few years elected candidates to both the Madison City Council and the Dane County Board; Madison is located in Dane County. This group is especially disliked by the Capital Times newspaper because Alliance candidates take votes away from liberal Democrats backed by the Capital Times.

Because the pact of store owners made the success of the boycott spotty, the tactics soon escalated to stink bombings, tear gassing, and trashing of those stores stocking General Beverage liquors. No one was ever arrested for these actions. There was little objection to the tactics from the left community; local 695 denied responsibility. However, the combination of the stink bombings and the massive support generated by the Wisconsin Alliance and others for the strike outraged the Capital Times editors. They wrote in a February 1973 editorial that “This city will not condone mafia tactics that are highlighted by stink bombing and window smashing”. The editorial said that “Teamster officials ought to make certain that they are stopped.” It wanted the union leadership to control union members, supporters, and activists to fit the desires of the city’s liberals. Finally, the editorial showed the Capital Times’ view of labor-management conflict by saying that the incidents “raised fears that the community’s reputation for harmonious collective bargaining is under severe strain.” The Capital Times apparently felt that there are no deep conflicts between labor and management and that all problems can be solved by a chat between the union leaders and the employer. Actually, Madison businessmen, including the Capital Times management, have fought unionism for many years. They are not willing to accept the most harmonious collective bargaining.

The Capital Times’ Democratic Party affiliations were also involved, The Capital Times was one of the initial pro-McGovern newspapers in the country for the 1972 election. The owner of General Beverage, Lawrence Weinstein, was one of the largest, if not the largest, contributor to McGovern’s campaign in Wisconsin. The editorial, which was ordered by publisher Miles McMillin, elicited who is a friend and political ally of Weinstein’s, elicited a strong response from the Madison Newspaper Guild local 64 (AFL-CIO), the union of the Capital Times editorial employees and reporters. The Guild wrote an open letter, which was published in the Capital Times, to McMillin condemning the anti-union attitudes of the editorial. “The tone of the editorial suggests that any strike-related violence originates with labor. Nowhere does it mention the more extensive, if more subtle, damage to the lives of workers initiated by management through its refusal to provide adequate wages and conditions”.

Marketti saw significance in the Capital Times editorial beyond insensitivity to workers’ needs. He saw it as representative of the Liberal view toward labor. He said, “Liberalism is just capitalism with a pretty face. The liberals talk a good line about helping the working man around election time but never really deliver. The real trick to the liberal labor policy is to grant workers symbolic victories without substantive gains. Liberals are for unions in theory but against anything which makes unions effective.”

“There is a fundamental contradiction in the labor-management relationship no matter how much some people would like to hide it. Working people want to control their own lives and want a decent standard of living. More power for the workers means less for the boss”. Marketti agreed with the Capital Times that the General Beverage strike was important, but for different reasons. He said that the strike along with others “conveyed to the rank and file that the new young leadership (of local 695) would do the job for the members. Members, some of whom were critical about violence, property damage and left alliances, were really thrilled in a more fundamental way that their local union would do anything necessary to support members on strike.”

By March of 1973, the strikers had won. The settlement had the unique provision of a two-week cooling off period with pay for the strikers between the end of the strike and the time the workers would return to work. Marketti said of the anger of the workers at General Beverage, “This is where the young white working class is at today; they want to kick the shit out of the boss and they want the boss to know it can be done again. In the end, the General Beverage strike was fought because the younger workers realized they were on the road to a tremendous victory through their unity and organized strength, and the bosses tried to snatch that away.”

In explaining why the strike was so long and bitter and why it drew so much local publicity, Marketti also drew some conclusions for the labor movement. “The bosses have class consciousness; they know that once workers get a sense of their power, they’re in for a tough time for a long time to come. A lot of labor fights are fought over the question of how to keep from the workers a sense of their own power, Any progressive union has to be sensitive to this. If a union helps the boss cover up the power realities, no matter how good a contract you get, you screw the workers. They will never be able to progress beyond incrementalism. Labor bureaucrats understand this. This is why collective bargaining is so mystified today. It is used to hide from the workers the fact that it is their power that got concessions rather than the power of the negotiator. We were trying to develop an awareness of the power realities in our union. We weren’t opposed to collective bargaining as a process but wanted it clearly understood that it is only a tool for the workers’ movement and not the movement itself.”

It was local 695’s support for the Teaching Assistants strike in 1970 and later independent union strikes and the hiring of Marketti which unleashed so much organizing energy. But the growing militancy of the younger workers created a parallel struggle within local 695 over the direction of the local.


Local 695 was built up under difficult conditions by the former Secretary-Treasurer, Al Mueller. 695 is composed of some 6000 workers in 250 scattered plants, terminals and warehouses. The isolation of each unit makes it hard to hold the local together. Mueller’s strategy to combat the lack of a union tradition in the area was to create an image of respectability. Under his leadership the local seldom struck and relied on his personal contacts for settlements. Mueller exhibited this attitude during the 1970 Teaching Assistants strike when he demanded that the union’s executive committee settle the strike since it couldn’t be won, he thought the key to a settlement was to reach top University management. When he was refused by the executive committee, he attempted to have Teamster support withdrawn by Don Eaton, the Secretary-Treasurer at that time. Mueller was wrong; the militance of the union members won most of their demands.

Mueller’s threat did not prevail during the Teaching Assistants strike because by then he was a semi-retired consultant to local 695. Don Eaton, his protégé, hired Marketti after the Teaching Assistants strike had been won. Eaton became prominent in the second level of leadership of the International. He was Director of the Teamster’s National Cannery Council and had been successful in organizing Wisconsin vegetable canneries.

Mueller maintained a good deal of influence in the local even after his retirement, There had been a constant struggle within the local between the two union philosophies represented on one side by Mueller and on the other by Marketti and Eaton. Finally, after the successful General Beverage strike in the spring of 1973, Eaton and his supporters felt strong enough to consolidate power within the local and to end the friction between what had become conservative and progressive leadership factions.

Mueller’s supporter and one of the approximately twelve Business Agents employed by local 695, Elmer Fosdal, had been contract bargaining at the Purity Cheese Company near Madison. Fosdal called a strike against Purity Cheese without getting clearance from Secretary-Treasurer Eaton as the local 695 by-laws required. Eaton was elected; Fosdal was an appointee. Eaton saw this as an attempt by Fosdal to undermine the elected authority within local 695 and to create a separate local policy directed by Mueller and Fosdal.

Eaton fired Fosdal in early July 1973. Mueller reacted to Fosdal’s firing in a rage. According to Marketti, Mueller threatened to kill Eaton and said he would sabotage the local if Fosdal wasn’t rehired. Eaton responded to Mueller’s threats by having Mueller fired as a trustee of the local’s health and welfare fund. The seven man executive board backed Eaton on a four to three split.

It was later revealed that the controversial strike had been engineered as a political strike. A settlement was already at hand, but the workers were called out so that Mueller could enter as the great negotiator who settled it and thereby win support among the workers at the plant. Eaton’s quick reaction punctured this strategy.


The election of local 695 officers for new three-year terms was scheduled for December 1973. After Mueller’s firing as trustee of the health and welfare fund, his supporters formed a slate to oppose Eaton. Fosdal would be their candidate for Secretary-Treasurer, Eaton’s job. The Fosdal slate defined three campaign issues. First they claimed there had been misappropriation of strike benefits during some of the militant strikes run by younger Business Agents including Marketti. One strike in 1972 lasted fourty-two weeks at the Wisconsin Supply Company, a small plumbing supply firm. Secondly, they criticized the conduct of strikes, especially those run by Marketti, on the grounds that they got bad press for the local. Finally, they criticized the failure of the local to “make a profit” by which they meant that there was no accumulation of surplus dues money after the expenses of running the local. The local had assets of a quarter of a million dollars.

Marketti said, “These were all code words for attacking union militancy. If you are a good unionist, you are not concerned about the bank balance, but whether the union helped the rank and file. In some cases, you’ve got to be willing to spend the entire treasury to back up the members.”

The claim of misappropriation of strike benefits obtained from the International union refers to a common practice in the Teamsters Union, During a long strike, some of the strikers get part time jobs. Their benefits are given to other strikers or are used to hire pickets. A receipt book must be signed by the strikers to get their benefits. Since those with part time jobs aren’t on the scene, they tell others to sign their name for them. It is forgery by permission, This occurred during the long Wisconsin supply strike for which there were only four active pickets and two hired pickets to walk the picket lines. Eaton and his slate admitted that this practice was a technical Violation of International rules for distributing strike benefits. But they emphasized that none of the money was stolen; it was redistributed in a way they thought would win the strike.

The strike tactics referred to the General Beverage strike with its picket line confrontations, the stink bombings and the consumer boycott.

Marketti described the argument, “It is always the conservative trade unions who conceive of the union treasury as a profit and loss proposition. This takes the form of measuring union success by the union bank account rather than to measure union success by how many. members were organized, how many strikes we supported well, how much service we gave to the member’s grievances.”

The election campaign was fought on these three issues. But since the Eaton slate admitted the technical violations of the strike benefit procedures, the real issue was the conduct of strikes and the direction of the local.

The Fosdal slate apparently sensed it was in trouble from the start; it tried immediately to get help from the International. In a July 27, 1973 letter to the International Union, Fosdal’s supporters on local 695’s Executive Board charged that illegal use had been made of strike benefit money and called for an audit. They also hinted that the local was in danger of being taken over by leftists, meaning Marketti. Marketti said, “The left is often charged with being irresponsible and having a kamakasi attitude. In this fight it was certainly the opposite. The left was mainly concerned with articulating the issues in such a way that the local remained united after the vote. We took our knocks and criticism quietly so not to create personal splits. The right took a rule or ruin attitude.”

The International did not respond to the pleas for interference because it knew that such redistribution of strike benefits is common within the Teamsters and because of the long tradition of local autonomy in the Teamsters; the king does not interfere with the feudal lords unless he has to. While an audit was begun, apparently at this time the International viewed the struggle as one between two local factions and was willing to let them slug it out.

But then some of the Wisconsin Statewide Teamster leadership got into the fight. These men included Frank Ranney, formerly of Milwaukee local 200 and now International Union Representative for Wisconsin; Robert Shlieve, the Secretary-Treasurer of Local 563 in Appleton, Wisconsin and the Central Conference Representative for Wisconsin; and James Jesinski, Secretary-Treasurer of Milwaukee local 200. These officers went to the head of the IBT Central Conference in Chicago, Ray Schoessling, and asked him to get the International to put local 695 under trusteeship. This would cancel the local’s scheduled December election and result in an appointed local leadership. These appointments would certainly be from Mueller’s supporters.

The state leadership had three reasons for approaching Schoessling, according to Marketti. First their politics led them to see a danger in the new direction of local 695. Secondly, local 695 was growing in size and reputation in Wisconsin and could soon challenge them for leadership of the Wisconsin Teamsters. Thirdly, most of these men believe that a local union is a business which makes the most money possible from dues. If they could get control over local 695, then 695 could be split up between their locals 200 and 563, giving them extra dues money at no organizing expense, The locals in the state of Wisconsin each have certain areas of the state which it is their responsibility to organize. Local 695’s territory borders local 200’s Milwaukee region on the east and local 563’s area on the north. It would be easy to break off pieces of local 695’s territory and add them to the areas controlled by these other two locals.

Eaton was able to convince the International not to impose a trusteeship with the arguments that there was the tradition of local autonomy, his slate would win the election, and it wasn’t worth the trouble. But as a result of the audit of strike benefit money, the International did require repayment of some twelve thousand dollars by 695. It ruled that the strikers who got part time jobs were not eligible for benefits. The International did not want to set the stage for any broad Labor Department investigation of Teamster strike funds. Having apparently ended the threat on its flank, the Eaton slate took their fight to the membership through leaflets, membership and bargaining unit meetings during the months of September and October. The Eaton slate put out two fact sheets. One listed all the strike benefit money that each individual striker received in the General Beverage, Wisconsin Supply and George Holmes Tires strikes, The second answered the three issues raised by Fosdal and listed the following accomplishments of Eaton’s leadership: 1) In three years they increased the size of the local by 1000 members, 2) they hired younger Business Agents, 3) they started a Stewards school, 4) they negotiated twice as many contracts since the wage freeze began, as a result of the members’ desire for short term contracts which would allow more frequent adjustments for inflation, 5) they supported the striking members to the fullest extent possible “without fear of criticism from any source.”


By the end of October 1973, the Eaton slate believed they would win the election by a large margin, possibly four or five to one. Fosdal and Mueller took a last act of desperation; they made the struggle public. Mueller telephoned Mile McMillin, the publisher of the Capital Times, and got him to agree to do an exposé of the struggle in 695. Normally one of the staff reporters would have been assigned to this task, but this time City Editor, Dave Zweifel, was given the job.

Zweifel was not a member of the Newspaper Guild local 64 which had condemned McMillin’s editorial against the General Beverage strike. He was also a long-time friend of Mueller’s. In the day when Mueller was Secretary-Treasurer of 695, he had offered Zweifel a job as a Business Agent for local 695.

The Capital Times played Zweifel’s four part series on 695 with the front page fervor of a Watergate expose, claiming that they were the result of a “week long investigation”. But the articles amounted to little more than an interview with Al Mueller and a summary of Mueller’s charges against Eaton. The only response printed from Eaton was tie statement, “Al is very insulted because he no longer runs this union and now he’s trying to destroy it”.

It seems that the Capital Times’ purpose was both to help Mueller and to pressure 695 to tone down its strike tactics. Apparently the Capital Times also thought some further pressure could be brought on 695 from a U.S. Labor Department investigation of 695 which had been requested by Mueller’s supporters on the 695 Executive Board. The Capital Times tried to speed up the investigation with hints in the story that it had been delayed by Fitzsimmon’s cozy relationship with Nixon.

Both sides in the struggle wondered what the effect of the Capital Times series would be. The annual Stewards banquet that last week of October offered the first chance to find out how the membership would react. The Wisconsin Teamster leadership which had been monitoring the 695 situation since September came to see for themselves. They had been assured by those sympathetic to Mueller that Elmer Fosdal could win the secretary-Treasurers post from Eaton, They expected that the Capital Times series would create more hostility toward Eaton. During all these banquets there comes a time when the leadership of the local in introduced to the gathering. Eaton was introduced, stood and got a warm ovation. But it was Marketti around whom the controversy really centered. The test was his introduction. Marketti got a standing ovation from the stewards. The state leadership got the message. The situation was out of control, and Eaton would win re-election. Eaton would keep Marketti and the local would continue on its militant way.


The state leadership now acted quickly. They went back to Ray Schoessling of the Central States Conference in Chicago with the story that the fight in 695 was causing bad publicity for Teamsters, using the Capital Times series as evidence for their claim. Schoessling this time bought their story that the lid would have to be put on 695. He then recommended to Fitzsimmons that a trusteeship should be imposed on 695 by the International. This would mean that appointed representatives of the International would run 695 and that the elections would be cancelled.

Fitzsimmons was receptive to Schoessling’s recommendation because he had another bone to pick with Eaton. Eaton, in his role as Director of the IBT National Cannery Council, had opposed the wage freeze for food workers. This could have fouled up Fitzsimmon’s strategy with Nixon. The Fitzsimmon deals with Nixon were part of a plan to win concessions for the over-the-road drivers in the Teamsters; these long haul drivers are Fitzsimmons’ power base in the Teamsters. While the Teamsters have more food industry members than drivers or than any other U.S. trade union, Fitzsimmons has less support among the food workers and so would not act on their problems to the detriment of the over-the-road drivers.

Fitzsimmons placed local 695 under trusteeship on November 2, 1973. Those in the Wisconsin leadership who had been lobbying for the trusteeship were appointed by Fitzsimmons to run 695, Frank Ranney, the International Representative out of Milwaukee local 200, was appointed trustee. Ranney designated as his aide Robert Shlieve, of Appleton Local 563, James Jesinski, of Milwaukee Local 200, and Roy Lane, also of local 200. None of Mueller’s supporters inside 695 were given any power.


When on Friday, November 2, local 695 was put in trusteeship by Frank Fitzsimmons, it was much to the surprise of many members of 695 who thought that a trusteeship was a threat, rarely used as long as a local was following the rules.

Once a trusteeship is imposed, all officers, business agents and trustees of the welfare funds are requested to submit resignations. At local 695 all except Marketti agreed to do so because they thought the International just wanted to quiet things down to end the bad publicity and then would fade away, Marketti believed that the trusteeship would completely reverse the direction of the local and that there was no choice but to fight.

Former business agent Gene Machkovitz said that there wasn’t any rank and file reaction, “Most people felt, and I think Don Eaton even felt this, he thought that they’d come in, impose the trusteeship, look at the books, find out that there wasn’t any thievery, and go away. But they had other motives.”

On Monday the trustees made it clear that they would take complete charge. They fired business agents Marketti, Machkovitz and Seymour, rehired Fosdal (who Eaton had fired), and rehired as business agents all the other officers and agents who had resigned. The political goals of the trustees were clear; they were there to re-establish the power of the conservatives. Markettl was blacklisted; he has been unable to get a job covered by a Teamster contract to this day.

During the weekend following the imposition of the trusteeship, Marketti polled members of 695 on what reaction to take to the trusteeship. He concentrated on those he knew to be militant and those he had organized into the Teamsters Union: workers in Liquor distribution, in the canneries, in dairy plants and small fabrication plants. Most of those contacted agreed to support an effort to fight back if the trustees actually took over the local, When the takeover was carried out on that Monday, Teamsters for Democracy (TfD) was formed the next day by Marketti and other members of 695.

At this time Marketti and TfD thought that the main goal of TfD was to get the trusteeship lifted so that an election could be held. Almost immediately a letter was mailed to all 500 shops stewards and committeemen (the assistant stewards) announcing the formation of TfD. John August, one of the rank and file activists in TfD, says that this was done because it seemed important to have well known, dedicated trade unionists as visible supporters. They were also the most accessible since a list was available. TfD hoped that the stewards would pass the information on to their members.

Fund raising began; the funds were first intended to be spent in a lawsuit against the International claiming that the trusteeship was illegal and asking that it be lifted ana supervised elections be held. Marketti said, “We got a post office box in Madison, P.O. Box 190, put out an appeal for funds and started to establish ourselves organizationally.”

Marketti said, “The only way the trusteeship can be functional from the point of view of the right is to smash the left and to depoliticize the local for a long period, to install their people in leadership positions with access to the rank and file, and to control the apparatus to guide the discussion of issues in the local. The idea was that the organization (TfD) would set up a means by which the left and militant rank and file could rally around for the time until the trusteeship could be lifted.”

Filing the lawsuit had a similar purpose, “It provides a way for the trusteeship to be challenged and to keep issues under discussion.”

John August, a driver for the Yellow Cab Company of Madison whose shop coincidently won its certification election on the day the trusteeship was imposed, said that the original concern of TfD in November 1973 was to get to the membership quickly to tell them that the trusteeship was imposed on false premises, the “bad publicity” and “misappropriation” of strike funds, to suppress 695 as a progressive local. August said that VfD made both a legal and political thrust. The legal defense was the suit asking the trusteeship to be overthrown. The political attack was a petition drive to ask Fitzsimmons to lift the trusteeship; such petitioning is allowed by the IBT constitution once six months of a trusteeship passes. One thousand signatures were obtained by TLD in the next four months, but local 695 has about 5000 members. August said that Marketti and others in TfD felt that if, in November and December, they could get to the membership, perhaps a large enough protest could be raised to force the International to back off from the trusteeship. They hoped that the International would not want to look bad by going against the will of the membership. Even the International needs to maintain membership support. However the petition did not elicit any response from the IBT.

The 695 membership had two distinct reactions to the imposition of the trusteeship, according to August. Many of the long time Teamsters, now stewards and leaders in the shops, couldn’t believe that a trusteeship would be imposed on them. The International’s action undercut their faith in the union, which had won so many benefits for them. They were disheartened and depressed, and their will to fight back was broken. The opposite reaction, from the more politicized members, was that of an expectation fulfilled.

TfD began with Marketti as “the spiritual but not bureaucratic leader, ” said August. They divided themselves into North, East, West, and Central areas of the 695 jurisdiction and picked well known stewards as area coordinators. A “Committee of One Hundred” was formed composed mostly of stewards and committeemen, the visible unionists in local 695, in an attempt to work through the established leaders in the local. In local 695, a steward is what most unions call the “chief steward: in the shop; the committeemen are the assistants to the steward. Both are elected by and from the members in the shop. John August said, “They were people readily identifiable to the membership (and included people who had been stewards for thirty years). They did not see themselves as different from 695.” TfD 1s not a membership organization, put it is a group of members of 695. August and others emphasized many times, “TfD is not an organization outside of 695.” They see TfD as an organization committed to regaining rank and file control of 695.

TfD was a natural indigenous outgrowth of rank and file demands to remove outside manipulation of their local, It was not, as are some “rank and file” caucuses, the result of an outside effort by politically active people to become involved in the labor movement. Many of the latter make an intellectual study of the situation and decide to enter certain unions because they see it as a fertile area for organizing for political change in the U.S. To do this they develop a theory and make a commitment of time and energy that often forces them to interpret events according to their initial analysis. Such an analysis, if it is foreign to those already in the union, can irritate them and isolate the caucus from the rest of the union. TfD does not face this problem of gaining acceptance or of winning confidence. Its problem is to devise a strategy that would motivate the membership to actually act on their complaints and that would be successful in winning these ends.

John August said that in the original organizing of TfD in November of 1973 to January 1974 they discussed the question of expressing an explicit “ideology” for TLD and decided to be open and non-sectarian. Some members of local socialists groups wanted at first to develop an explicit ideology but after the discussions agreed that it would be unworkable. There are very few members of nationally known leftist sects active in Madison-area labor. TfD decided that it first was only interested in taking over 695 through the elections they expected once the trusteeship was lifted. August said they decided that the ideological questions would be faced after winning the election and that they feared they might limit their strategy by a priori ideological decisions. These statements by August reflect a distrust of the abilities of many of the left sects to be flexible enough to deal with a real-world situation, not a refusal to carry out a serious political analysis of the situation in local 695. He said, “If TfD was not in control of 695, ideological disputes were ridiculous.” Any political analysis put forth by TfD would have to grow naturally out of the struggle to reshape local 695.


The first half of 1974 was a time for the trustees to consolidate permanent control of local 695 and for attempts by TfD to rally enough support to fight back. TfD had the “need to engage the membership” which in turn required goals that were winnable and which would show the true political nature of the trusteeship. There was no time for intellectual political consciousness raising; this was an immediate

struggle that had to be faced and won.

TfD found itself facing the massive power of the International as well as the hostility of the other Wisconsin locals and so was forced to adopt the “chaos principle”: they had to hit at every weak point the trustees left exposed in hopes of generating some action to stir things up. They hoped the pressures thus created would lead to more opportunities to strike a serious blow at the trustees. These actions would at least give the membership a chance to discover the primary goals of the trustees. TfD filed its lawsuit under the Landrun-Griffen Act, filed a complaint with the Labor Department, testified at the IBT trusteeship hearing, went to the membership meetings to ask embarrassing questions of the trustees, carried out a petition. rive under the International rules, tried to explain the motives behind the trusteeship, began to develop its own political program for the local and generally tried to rally the membership.

The first real forum for TfD was the IBT’s constitutionally required hearing to take evidence on whether or not the trusteeship should be continued; this hearing was scheduled for November 27, a little over three weeks after the trusteeship was first imposed. In its first newsletter dated the 22nd, TfD predicted “that this will be nothing more than another railroad job.” TfD pointed out that the hearing was being held on 10 AM on a working day. The local told members to apply to the local for help in getting off work; this gave the local some control over who appeared. Even so, at what TfD characterized as the “Kangaroo hearing”, many rank and filers did appear. Rank and filers from food processing asked for the election to be held so that the members could decide who runs the local. A cannery worker said, “this trusteeship is political monkey business, give us a vote.” A warehouseman from Columbus, Wisconsin said, “I didn’t like some of the leadership’s policies, but I want an election.” A Madison freight driver said, “The only trouble with our local leadership is that they’re too honest. They tell the members where its at.” Another driver said, “the International is trying to destroy local 695 because we fought the 5.5% guidelines. Who’s side are you guys on?” The trustees and the leaders of the Mueller faction, Elmer Fosdal and Roger Witz, spoke in favor of continuing the trusteeship.

The report of the hearing board has never been made public, but on January 2, 1974 International President Fitzsimmons decreed a full eighteen months trusteeship for local 695, It was later learned that he didn’t even receive the hearing panel’s report until January 19 1974, over two weeks after he declared the full term trusteeship.

TfD and other members spoke out at membership meeting after membership meeting. In November they quizzed trustee designate James Jesinski of Milwaukee local 200 on the reasons for the trusteeship. TfD characterized the meeting as a “no answer” session, When asked what was the emergency which caused the trusteeship, Jesinski said, “We don’t know.” When asked why the trusteeship was imposed six weeks before the local’s election, Jesinski said, “The International Union thought it was best,” and when asked why, he said, “We don’t know.” He was even asked “what say do the members have?” and had the nerve to answer, “none”.

At the December meeting members asked how the trustees were spending local 695 money. Everyone remembered that the alleged justification for imposing the trusteeship was “misappropriation of strike funds.” Jesinski refused to provide a financial report on the period since the trustees took over. Marketti then asked what had happened to his written request to look at the books. Jesinski said, “Your letter has been filed,” Marketti wondered if he could come into the office the next day to see the records. Jesinski said no.

After being asked about and refusing to show the financial reports at every membership meeting, the trustees finally admitted at the March meeting that the local had lost money in February, but claimed that it was only a “paper loss” resulting from selling some of the Local’s stock which had not been doing well. At this meeting they put the finishing touches on Marketti. He had been unable to find a job in the Local’s juristiction since his firing as a Business Agent and was issued a withdrawal card from 695 by the trustees. Normally such cards are only issued on request by the member and then only after a great deal of pressure to keep the member paying dues even though the member is laid-off, discharged or between jobs. When Marketti showed up at the March meeting, the trustees had him arrested by Madison police for trespassing. Marketti said that the city cops played dumb when he asked them to arrest the trustees and local 200 Business agents present for trespassing since they too were not members of local 695. But the county jailers, he said, gave him warm reception; they are members of 695. The charges were later dismissed by a Madison judge after a trial since the city couldn’t prove that ‘Marketti was disorderly or didn’t have a right to be at the meeting. At the trial, the 695 office manager testified that one reason Marketti was given a withdrawal card was that he didn’t support the present trustee leaders of the local. The trustees were making no attempt to hide their aim of driving the militants from 695.

By the May 1974 membership meeting rank and filers were booing, hissing and yelling at the trustees. One member from Zapata Kitchens in Stoughton Wisconsin passed around copies of their new contract, negotiated by trustee Roy Lane of Milwaukee local 200. The contract was so bad that another member shouted out “I’d be ashamed to put the name Teamster on a contract that looks like this.” It was a first contract for the one hundred employees but didn’t even win enough of a pay raise to pay Teamster dues; it said a discharge was not subject to the grievance procedure; and it created an open shop (former Business Agent Gene Machkovitz said he wouldn’t even waste time bargaining a contract unless ‘there would be a union shop clause). The net result of this contract was that by 1975, local 695 had only 8 members out of the 100 employees.

In at least four other cases members of Local 695 suffered direct economic and job rights losses from the imposition of the trusteeship. Bargaining is done by a Business Agent with the assistance of a team of the members to be covered by the contract. The trustees when they did the job of a business agent would often give away clauses during the negotiations without consulting the member’s bargaining team. The trustees with no long term interest in the local wanted quick easy settlements with no expenditure of their/or the union’s resources. The trustees more were more concerned with manipulating the union bureaucracy than in winning benefits for the members; they had put into practice the “good business” techniques that the Mueller faction had complained Eaton was ignoring during the election campaign leading to the trusteeship.

TfD said that bad contracts were signed because employers saw no reason to make concessions when they expected the trustees to keep militants under control; there would be no more strikes like those run by Marketti. The employers were right, but there were some exceptions. The workers at Madison’s Yellow Cab staged a short wildcat strike both against the International for refusing to sanction a strike and against the company. Some real gains were won by the workers in spite of the new leaders of local 695.

By May of 1974 TfD had created a political platform of seven principles around which it was organizing. These called for an end to the trusteeship, getting the International out of 695 affairs, “Forward looking and strong leadership for 695 responsible to the rank-and-file of Local 695 and rank-and-file interests”, democratically arrived at endorsements for political office (this referred to the Fitzsimmons endorsement of Nixon and similar actions), an election in 695 supervised by a neutral body, support of TfD candidates in that election, and finally unity in 695 after the elections are held: “Support for all members in the fight for a better way of life through their union”.


While TfD was struggling to activate the 695 membership, the trustees were taking steps to consolidate their control over 695. By July seven of the former leaders of local 695 had left the local: four of the former seven officers and three of the Business Agents, including Eaton, who was Secretary-Treasurer, the President, the Recording Secretary, and one of the trustees of the Welfare fund. Eaton left to take a job with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service after it became clear that even if he did win re-election when the elctions were finally held, he would get no cooperation from the higher levels of the International. Two of the others have finally found jobs in shops with 695 contracts; two including Marketti have found other labor jobs, both with AFL-CIO union; another is working for his family and the other two have retired. So any group such as TfD that wanted to run a slate had to develop new leadership; the trustees had created a leadership vacuum in the local that they themselves would fill if only because they had control over the local. They replaced many of the indigenous leaders by people from Milwaukee local 200.

One of the major factors leading to the trusteeship was Eaton’s firing of Fosdal. Fosdal was rehired by the trustees almost immediately. But within months of his rehiring, Fosdal resigned to work for trustee Shlieve’s local 563 in the Fox River Valley paper mill region of Appleton, Wisconsin.

Gene Machkovitz, one of the fired Business Agents, explainal that this was seen by TfD as the prelude to a dismantling of 695 and the distributing of its members into Milwaukee local 200 and Appleton local 563. He pointed out that the trusteeship was mainly implemented through the aid of Milwaukee 200 people and local 563’s Shlieve.

He felt that the reason the trustees didn’t just come in and see that the books were honest as Eaton hoped was that the trustees wanted the local. “Historically local 200 has always felt that Waukesha County (the first county to the west of Milwaukee) should belong to them. Local 695 organized that when there was about fifty members. Now that it grew so there was a lot of members, they’d like to have that. It’s close to home.” He spoke of Shlieve’s interest in 695, “Bob Shlieve, I understand, always resented Don Eaton being chairman of the Joint Council Cannery Committee. He’s got that job now that Eaton’s gone. I think they got their heads together and they could bust this local up. Probably leave a little local in Madison or something….” Most of the canneries in Wisconsin are in 695’s jurisdiction, in the northern region; Shlieve’s local has very few. By February of 1974 TFD was already announcing the danger of this raid by the other locals to the 695 membership. In their newsletter they said, “Milwaukee local 200 is to get the Eastern end of 695’s jurisdiction. Local 563 out of Appleton is to get Local 695’s members in the northern and central parts of the territory.” Fosdal’s hiring by 563 was seen by TFD as the prelude to the transfer of the food processing shops in the northern region into Shlieve’s 563 to give him more control over the canneries and to bolster his successful move to win Eaton’s chairmanship of the Cannery Council. Remember that organizing the nation’s food processing industry is now one of the highest priorities of the IBT.

But any other moves to finalize the advantages of the trusteeship were temporarily halted by the filing of the federal lawsuit by TfD: Marketti et al vs Fitzsimmons et al. The suit alleges that Fitzsimmons and other IBT officers acted in violation of the Landrum-Griffen Act in imposing the trusteeship because the situation in 695 did not fulfill any where of the permitted conditions for imposing a trusteeship listed under title three. Teamsters for Democracy claims that the real reason for the trusteeship was to give one political faction control of 695.

The trusteeship is regulated because it has been a traditional tool of corrupt trade union leaders. Pension or health and welfare funds can be controlled, threats of strikes can he used to extort bribes from employers, or votes in International elections can be controlled by the appointment of sympathetic trustees over a Local. For example, the corrupt leadership recently expelled from the United Mine Workers (UMW) had been able to win re-election by using trusteeships to control the votes of many UMW locals.

The primary remedy that Marketti and Teamsters for Democracy seek in Federal Court is a declaration that the trusteeship is illegal and that the situation must be returned to what it was before the imposition of the trusteeship. They also want future elections in 695 to be supervised by the Federal Court, and they want Marketti re-instated to his job in 695 with back pay in damages. So much has changed since result in a financial settlement the suit was filed that it will probably result in a financial settlement out of court.

The original papers for the suit were, prepared by a brilliant young lawyer with experience in defending rank and file groups. Fred Sherman of Layton & Sherman in New York City. Also the Washington D.C, law firm of Arnold and Porter has entered the case on behalf of Teamsters for Democracy. Arnold and Porter worked on the side of the Miners for Democracy to break the hold of corruption in the United Mine Workers.

On May 8, 1974, Fitzsimmons was required to give a deposition to the TfD lawyers on the trusteeship. At first Fitzsimmons said that the trusteeship was imposed because of the way 695 handled strike benefit funds, but then admitted that he had been informed in writing by Eaton in August 1973 that the funds were redistributed to picketers. The trusteeship was not imposed until November, even after 695 had repaid the funds in question to the International. Fitzsimmons said under cross examination that he waited until November to act because “They were going to have an election and we wanted to block it.”

Fitzsimmons first denied that other Teamster locals use the same methods as 695, but under later cross examination he admitted he knew that the President of Denver local 961 had been charged by the Labor Department for re-distributing strike funds and had been convicted for not being able to account for them. Fitzsimmons said 961 was not in trusteeship “because he was out on appeal.” Clearly the strike benefits issue was only an excuse to clean out those leaders of 695 who weren’t following Fitzsimmons’ program. Also at this examination, a memo describing a September 6, 1973 meeting was produced in which Ray Schoessling (who had to recommend the trusteeship to Fitzsimmons) of Chicago agreed to the repayment of strike funds by 695 to the International and agreed that there would be no trusteeship. TFD wrote in their newsletter, “When handed a memorandum on Schoessling’s stationary which stated that agreement, Fitz blinked.”

The Labor Department was brought into the case by both sides. Mueller’s supporters had field charges against the Eaton leadership on the uses of strike benefits; TfD and Marketti had filed a claim that the trusteeship was illegal because it had been imposed for political reasons. Chicago Labor Department Director John Beatty dismissed the charges on both sides in late spring 1974. Beatty said his investigation only showed that “the handling of strike benefits left something to be desired”; however he said the Labor Department “could not prove who was responsible”. He said that “the trusteeship was legal”. Marketti’s press release in response to this nondecision said, “How can the labor department say a non-provable offense occurred but that the trusteeship is okay when it is based on the not proved offense?” Marketti said that he had never been contacted by the Labor Department even though he was named in first complaint and had filed the second. Marketti’s press release said further, “What the Labor Department proved really is if you have enough political influence, like the International officers do, the government will let you get away with anything.” This was no surprise to anyone active in the day to day struggles of the labor movement on grievances, arbitrations, unfair labor practices, etc. The Labor Department is not known around the labor movement for its even-handed neutrality.


TfD took a major step in developing its own political platform by holding a convention in August 1974 in the Jefferson Wisconsin VFW Hall to “democratically debate” a platform and choose candidates for the election they hoped would soon be held. At the raucous May 695 membership meeting, the trustees had promised an election by the end of the year.

John August, who chaired this meeting, said that holding the convention at that time was a tactic to force an election and also an effort to prepare for the election. In the past few months there had been no press coverage of the trusteeship or activities in 695 (the Capital Times, having gotten Marketti out, shut up). TfD’s convention put them back in the news. August said that they hoped the news coverage and the sight of members democratically preparing for elections would embarrass the International and compel them to schedule elections.

Jim Marketti gave an upbeat keynote address which emphasized the importance of 695 to the Teamster movement. Marketti point out that 695 is not a one industry local but has organized shops in such diversified fields as construction, food processing, freight, liquor -distribution, and municipal employees such as bus drivers and police. Marketti reminded everyone that much of what had happened in 695’s food industry shops set a precedent for the International. Before the trusteeship former Secretary-Treasurer Don Eaton was head of the Teamster’s Cannery Council because of the work 695 had done in organizing canneries, both under Mueller and Eaton. Major food companies are located in 695’s jurisdiction including Carnation, Kraft, Beatrice Foods, Stokely Van Camp, Libby McNeil, and California Canners and Growers (the sixth largest in the world). In fact, Marketti and Eaton had been sent to Indiana in 1972 by the International to run the national strike against Stokely. They closed every Stokely plant in the country in one night and won the strike. Marketti told the convention that since 695 had led the way in the food industry, their efforts to democratize their local could also serve as a model for other locals.

The remainder of the discussion concentrated on creating a program and on the question of what a union should be. The upshot was a fifteen point platform spelling out the philosophy of TfD. There were about one hundred people present with forty voting delegates from TFD’s “Committee of One Hundred”. the group composed of rank and file leaders such as stewards and committeemen as well as other active rank ad filers.

The planks adopted corresponded directly to the issues facing local 695. There were several items condemning the trusteeship, calling for elections, promising to represent all the rank and file if elected, and saying “TfD wishes to promote greater participation by members in all affairs of the Local Union.”

Responding the issue of money use raised by Mueller against Eaton, TfD said, “The Local Union must not be run as a business corporation whose prime concern is profit.” They believed that the money should be spent in union organizing, which is the “..key to the on-going strengthening of the union as a force in the affairs of the community and society as a whole.” The financial resources must be used, TFD said, “to service the needs of the members…”

TFD did not want to allow any discrimination in the local, it listed the categories usually given in an anti-discrimination clause: age, race, religion, sex, national origin, and political affiliation, but added another, that of “craft”. TfD sees local 695 as a union of workers in many industries and said it “wishes to unite the membership in a strong, well-informed, and active coalition of workers from all industries to deal effectively with employers, and with the problems of society in general.”

To create this well informed membership, it was suggested during the discussion that the local should create a political education committee which would go beyond which candidates to support in local, state and national elections (a question which is not even now discussed with the local’s membership) to talk economics and its relation to union activities such as bargaining and organizing. If such a group could do research, it was suggested, the members would gain understanding that they do not now have time to pursue, strengthening the membership and relieving the leadership of the necessity to do all the work. The research would show that it is the way the employer runs the business which causes many problems for the workers.

One of the reasons that Fitzsimmons was willing to impose the trusteeship was the opposition by 695 to some of his national political stances, TfD voted to continue this opposition. The convention decided to oppose the International on its support of Nixon (this was before Nixon resigned), its support of the federal wage guidelines, the use of trusteeships to “block rank and file democracy”, and “The use of membership money to raid the United Farmworkers of America.” The Farmworkers plank caused some opposition from stewards in the food processing industry who feel that the only winning strategy for the food industry is to have the whole industry organized by one union. Otherwise, they fear that price cutting by non-union employers will put the unionized shops out of business and so destroy the gains won by the union.

TfD voted to continue as an “active, organized group of rank-and-file Teamsters” even after the election, TID promised to “provide constructive support and criticism of the leadership, publish periodic reports to the membership regarding the affairs of the Union” and to be active in advancing the interests of Teamsters and their families. TFD in no way wants to hurt the Teamster movement and is sensitive to the danger that those who do want to destroy the Teamsters may try to use TfD to get at the national leadership.

John August felt that one of the most important results of the convention was a “common sense of purpose”. He felt that while in AFL-CIO craft unions there is an automatic common interest, in a diverse local like 695, a sense of common goals was a major step forward.

Once the platform was constructed and approved, a slate was chosen for the promised election. It included three of the former leaders of 695 who were still in the local and five rank and filers. Three of these were long term stewards in 695, one was a negotiating team member at Kraft Foods, the other was a woman steward and negotiating team member of whom TfD said “It is long overdue that a woman serve to represent the voice of the hundreds of women in the Local Union, especially in the food processing industry.”


In October 1974 the trustees announced the election would be held in December, During the spring they had brought a new man in to administer local 695, Robert Rutland, Rutland had worked for Milwaukee local 200 before going to the Central States Council in Chicago. His background was in freight rather than the food processing which made up about half of 695.

Everyone expected that Robert Rutland would run for Secretary-Treasurer as the trustees’ candidate; but the surprise was that Mueller’s old iriends put up a slate of their own. Their slate was headed by Roger Witz, the candidate for Secretary-Treasurer; Witz had been the candidate for President on Mueller’s slate against Eaton a year earlier. Glen Van Keuren, the Assistant Secretary-Treasurer under Eaton, was TFD’s candidate. There were then three candidates for the top post of Secretary-Treasurer: Rutland, Witz and Van Keuren. But there were only two slates for the other six posts up for election.  Mueller’s man Witz was running with the same 695 people as the trustee’s man Rutland. Apparently some deal had been reached between Rutland and Mueller. But to top off this strange manipulation, Witz conducted a vigorous campaign attacking Rutland and the trusteeship. He accused Milwaukee local 200 of trying to use Rutland to take over local 695 and was quoted in the Capital Times newspaper as saying that “we don’t need outside people to come in like vultures swooping down on an organization in distress and try to take our local away from us”. Witz and Mueller apparently were glad to have the International drive out Eaton and then were astounded when the International and Milwaukee local 200 decided to keep what they had taken. Witz continued to campaign against TfD by raising the same issues of misappropriation of strike funds ‘that he and Mueller’s slate had raised a year earlier; his argument was that TfD had to be defeated because they would return the local to the former leadership.

Rutland campaigned as the incumbant, running on his record. TfD ran on the platform established at the Jefferson convention. Supporters of TFD went to the local 695 shops to explain that platform and to point out that most of TfD’s predictions and claims about the trusteeship had been true.

TfD lost the election and so did Mueller’s man Witz. Rutland polled 981, Witz 808 and Van Keuren (TfD) 763. A fourth candidate received 64 votes. The joint running mates of Rutland and Witz won about two third of the votes. The election was supervised by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, a state agency; no one raised any allegations of vote fraud. The International’s man Rutland had won a legitimate election.


The election results were particularly demoralizing to the TfD activists who honestly believed that they had an excellent chance to win. Glen Van Keuren was fired from his job as a Business Agent with 695 right after the election; the last one to go. Of the ten full time officers and Business Agents prior to the trusteeship, eight had been removed from office in one way or another by the trustees or Rutland, one (Fosdal) had gone to work for trustee Shlieve’s local 563, and the tenth won election as President of local 695 on Rutland and Mueller’s combined slate. Rutland had won total control.

TFD people put their finger on several reasons why they failed to win the election. One main reason was Mueller’s and the International’s coordinated slates below the top office of Secretary-Treasurer. Mueller was able to play the game both ways, running with and against the trusteeship. Two weeks before the election Mueller found it necessary to issue literature saying that he was the first one to object to interference from the International, even though he was the one who called in the International. Apparently he counted on people having short memories, TFD people believe that the vote showed that two thirds of the local was opposed to the International, the number who voted for TfD’s or Mueller’s full slate. But since Mueller and Rutland had the same slate, it won with about two thirds of the vote. One third of the votes went with the International under Rutland, about one third were loyal to Mueller, and approximately one third were swayed by TfD’s platform. Gene Machkovitz said that Mueller made the deal to run the same slate as Rutland because “That made two against one. He’s pragmatic; he knows where to move.” Machkovitz, in explaining what Mueller got of the deal, said, “My personal feeling is that early in the trusteeship, Mueller and Rutland were talking, and Mueller says I can set you up with an Executive Board, I’ve got these followers; I’ve got the clout. He didn’t know what kind of snake he was dealing with; once the election was over, I think Rutland cut him off.” Machkovitz thought if there were three different slates, TfD would have had “a pretty good chance”.

This explains why the leaders acted as they did but not why the members voted as they did. In a labor movement with little ideological content, loyalty, plays a very big role. Al Mueller was able to get votes, on an anti-International program or any other program, even though his Executive Board slate was identical to the International’s because of the loyalty he enjoys from the membership. Al Mueller was an active trade unionist for at least thirty five years; he is seen by many long time members of 695 as the one who built the local. This is especially true of those in construction, freight and the food processing shops which had been organized for many years. Machkovitz said, “First of all, Al Mueller’s a very  charismatic person. He has a lot of Loyalty from the old timers who have gone through a lot of stuff, in the old organizing days, a lot of rough stuff. And Al Mueller took a lot of it. He’s been beat up and clubbed and everything else. I think he’s a tough old character and people respect that. He was a good negotiator; he did a good job. He was a good guy until he turned it over to Don Eaton and that’s when he went bad. But until then he did do a good job; he commanded a lot of respect.”

John August said that Mueller “swung construction” in the election. Machkovitz agreed saying that Mueller “went around seeing some of the old timers.” There are more construction workers in tiny companies around the 695 jurisdiction than freight drivers.

Mueller and others attempted to paint TfD as the creation and tool of, Marketti so they could then smear TfD with the charge of being, the people who “misappropriated strike funds”. Machkovitz said, “The only time Marketti ever came under real fire (from members) was after his personal integrity had been attacked.” Apparently even after several years of close association with Marketti and many years with Eaton, people were willing to believe that they might very well have been pocketing money. “…members had the suspicion of the union just like they have the suspicion of the government, and they used words like misappropriation of strike benefits and everybody saw it going into Eaton’s pocket.” Machkovitz said that every time somebody charges a government official with misconduct everyone is inclined to believe it because they distrust the government. “I think people feel the same way about the union, especially – big unions because they’ve gotten to the point where they’re a lot like the First National Bank or the Post Office. They drive by and they see the building but people don’t feel close to it anymore.”

During the election campaign TfD found the results of the loss of loyalty very pronounced. In one of the shops giving Eaton strongest support while he was Secretary-Treasurer, they found members calling Eaton a “candy-ass” only six months after the trusteeship was imposed because he had fallen from power. Rutland came in and negotiated a contract for them which included a big pay raise; this raise was won because of Eaton’s previous work, but Rutland got the credit. John August said, “People look to the responsible person who is doing the work” as the leader. Some members asked why they needed Marketti and his gang back, wasn’t Rutland doing a good job. John August said, “What we didn’t have going for us was incumbency. The other thing we didn’t have was that we didn’t really have people (as candidates) who were identified as leaders in the local”.

TfD felt that they didn’t have well known or charismatic leaders, “all the people that voted for TFD voted on the issues, certainly not on personalities.” This is probably true since much of their support came from newly organized shops where militant unionism ls still a living idea. The old shops with higher wages were often Mueller or Rutland supporters. Phyllis Perna, a Yellow Cab driver, said, “One of the paradoxes is that unions obviously played a major role in making people comfortable,”

But if TfD was appealing to people on the basis of its platform while the other slates were winning votes because of former loyalties or because of incumbency, why did only about half the union members bother to vote. Probably they didn’t see any reason to vote. This question particularly bothers many of the TFD activists. They had slated Van Keuren for Secretary-Treasurer partially because he was the Business Agent for the newly organized police units, amounting to some six hundred votes, votes that TfD thought would swing the election one way or the other. But few of the police voted.

In their organizing TfD had gone to shops where they were assured that everyone was with them one hundred percent and yet only a sixth of the members later voted. Phyllis Perna analyzed this, “They didn’t know the personalities so there wasn’t that other kind of personal commitment either. They believed in the ideas but how often do people really get out and act on their ideas.”

Another active TFD campaigner, Victor Wightman, felt that “the TFD rap was too general”, and while people responded well to the TfD campaigners, they would rather talk about problems in their shops than TFD’s general statements in its platform. But again since TfD was not in power in the local it was hard pressed to prove that it could effectively deal with bread and butter issues.

TfD noticed that they had the best voting response in those shops where there was a TfD activist and decided, after the election, that one of their weaknesses was not having an active supporter in every major shop. There were difficulties in carrying out such a program that will probably always remain. August said, “It was a terrible summer for everyone in food processing and that was where our stregnth was”. But people in food processing work terribly long hours in the summer; TfD couldn’t expect people working fourteen to twenty hours a day to do much else. August quoted one cannery worker, “Sure we’re with you guys; do anything you want. But we’re working 75 hours a week. What the hell are we supposed to do.” On the other hand the shops that Mueller had organized delivered their votes in response to Mueller’s appearances. August believes that this was a result of the loyalty Mueller had developed over the years, while TFD had not yet had a chance to build such loyalty in its sympathizers.

The question of leadership is an important one for all rank and file movements. One can try to pick “moderate” leaders who will appeal to a broad spectrum of the union and run the risk, as happened in 695, that few people will bother to vote. Or one can pick leaders who accurately reflect the impetus behind the rank and file movement and win or lose on the legitimacy of that struggle. Gene Machkovitz said in analyzing the election loss, “I think one of the things we didn’t have going was the fact that we didn’t have a hell raising rabble rouser there on our slate. And I think that was the type of people we should have attracted. What we had was a couple of candidates that were not that greatly different from the member’s standpoint from Rutland, who’s already in there.” Machkovitz said they have trouble finding a hell raiser to run but they were “a group that started out by rocking the boat” and “those were the people that we attracted”, so they should have continued in that direction in their…[END OF DOCUMENT]

Local news roundups

Energizer Battery Plans to Close Plants in Fennimore & Portage

Energizer Rayovac has two production plants represented by Teamsters 695. Energizer is planning on “consolidating”, closing the Wisconsin plants and moving production to non-union plants in North Carolina. “Once they’re closed, then Rayovac Wisconsin is done,” says worker John Jerome.

PORTAGE, Wis. — Union representatives set up outside the Energizer plant in Portage Thursday, a week after the International Brotherhood of Teamsters claimed the battery manufacturer plans to close the facility and another in Fennimore.

As uncertainty swirls within both communities, John Jerome, a longtime employee at the Portage plant, is concerned about what might happen to him and hundreds of his coworkers.

Energizer has not confirmed plans for the two plants, but Jerome said he and other workers got a message from the company that it wants to consolidate plants. The Teamsters union has said Energizer wants to close both plants, moving some operations to a non-union plant in North Carolina and other jobs overseas in the process.

Portage and Fennimore mark the Wisconsin-born company’s last two footholds in the state, and, “Once they’re closed,” Jerome said, “then Rayovac Wisconsin’s done.”

River of Melted Butter at Associated Milk, Portage

On January 2, 2023, a fire at the Associated Milk Producers Inc. in Portage, Wisconsin, created another river of melted butter. Luckily, NBC15 reports that there were no injuries due to the fire, and firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze by the night of January 3.

However, the Wisconsin State Farmer reports that this time, firefighters were unable to keep the melted butter out of the urban waterways, and the river of butter spilled into the Portage Canal. Although 99% of the melted butter was contained, a patch of melted butter roughly 30 by 20 feet wide ended up in the Portage Canal. And spills involving animal fats have detrimental effects on the environment similar to those of petroleum oil spills, which is why it’s imperative for the butter spill to be cleaned up as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

Read More:

Portage officials continue working to control the fallout from the Associated Milk Producers Inc. fire that released butter into the city sewer system.

Public Works director Phil Livingston said the city is working with a number of consultants and cleaning companies to clean up the product that entered the sewer system as a melted liquid but solidified in the city sewers. It now needs to be physically broken up and removed.

The structure fire required an additional eight fire departments to help the Portage Fire Department Jan. 2 around 9:15 p.m. The fire started in a storage area in the AMPI building, 301 Brooks St., where there was butter being stored. It melted and began to run through the building and into the Portage Canal and sewers.

City Brewing Expansion

City Brewery Co. is expanding its warehouse space at the former Sony Corp. plant outside New Stanton and will add more than 20 jobs at the site, the Regional Industrial Development Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania said Wednesday.

The La Crosse, Wis.-based company brews beer at the former Latrobe Brewing Co. in Latrobe.

It is adding 111,500 square feet to its existing 255,587 square feet and extending its lease by 10 years to 2033 for the current and expanded space, RIDC said in a statement.

The expansion is scheduled to begin next month, with the RIDC improving the lighting, dock areas and electrical power. The RIDC did not release details of the lease agreement on the space at the 350-acre property, which is owned by Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.

City Brewery had been using space at the 2.8 million-square-foot Westmoreland Innovation Center in East Huntingdon and Hempfield for about a year. It is now expanding its operation by more than 40% and doubling its lease, said Jason Rigone, Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. executive director.

Anita Hernandez, a spokeswoman for City Brewery, could not be reached for comment.

“City Brewery has made such significant strides in the growth of their business since they became a RIDC Westmoreland tenant,” RIDC President Donald F. Smith Jr. said.

City Brewing is also opening a site in Pennsylvania:


The election’s over, but we’re going to keep publishing, sharing information, organizing with 695 members. Here we have some news roundups about Teamster-represented shops in our local.

Energizer Battery (Portage)

PORTAGE, Wis. (WMTV) – City officials are confident the Energizer battery manufacturing plant in Portage will stay open, despite closing rumors.

NBC15 News looked into an anonymous tip from an employee that manufacturers at Energizer plants in Fennimore and Portage were told the future of their jobs wasn’t certain.

City of Portage Mayor Mitchel Craig and Director of Business Development Steven Sobiek heard speculation the plants could be closing from current employees, so they decided to look into the concerns.

Craig and Sobiek reached out to Energizer’s corporate office in St. Louis, Missouri, and asked if there was validity to the rumors. According to Craig and Sobiek, the battery manufacturer’s legal counsel told them the company is experiencing financial loss due to supply shortages, but there are not plans to close the Portage plant…

Moody’s Investor Services downgrades City Brewery rating–PR_472296

New York, December 15, 2022 — Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) today downgraded City Brewing Company, LLC’s (“City”, “City Brewing” or “the company”) corporate family rating (CFR) to Caa2 from B3, Probability of Default Rating to Caa2-PD from B3-PD, and the rating on the company’s senior secured bank credit facilities to Caa2 from B3. The rating outlook remains negative.

The downgrade to Caa2 was prompted by a weaker than expected third quarter ended September 2022 which failed to show anticipated recovery sequentially or year over year over an already weak 2nd half of 2021.  Operating results had already deviated materially from original growth and cash flow expectations in 2021 as expansion in the hard seltzer market slowed, leaving excess inventory in trade channels for City’s largest customers. Key customers pulled back on orders until the inventory overhang could be cleared, which in turn made City less efficient because it did not downscale its cost structure immediately due to concerns about worker shortages. City Brewing also expected the pull back to be temporary. Although the company said that the inventory overhang was cleared by mid 2022, persistent supply chain and labor availability challenges have slashed efficiency and made it difficult for the company to meet demand. Furthermore, the hard seltzer market has continued to see lower demand than anticipated this year and the category will experience a seasonal low over the next quarter or so which will make Q4 challenging. Exacerbating these issues, equipment delivery delays for new lines at the Irwindale brewery meant that the company missed the ability to fulfill orders for the key summer selling season and may not regain some of those customers until the new calendar year when contracts reset. The company has been challenged with labor issues including a one-week strike at its Latrobe facility, higher labor costs, and a high turnover rate and difficulty recruiting at its Memphis facility, normally one of its most productive…

Saputo Cheese closes one plant, opens another

Canadian dairy major Saputo is to close a cheese plant in the US, impacting 200 employees.

The Toronto-listed firm plans to shutter the goat’s cheese manufacturing facility in Belmont, Wisconsin, but will invest CAD45m (US$34.7m) to convert its mozzarella plant in Reedsburg, in the same state, to goat cheese.

Saputo said the moves are intended to “further streamline its manufacturing footprint in its US”.

It added: “This announcement marks the continuation of the company’s network optimisation programme that plays an integral role in its global strategic plan designed to enhance operations and accelerate organic growth across its platforms.”

Saputo said converting the Reedsburg facility into a goat’s cheese manufacturing plant will “increase capacity, expand our position in growing speciality cheese categories, and improve productivity”.

It said mozzarella production will be transferred to other existing Saputo facilities in the US, “increasing capacity utilisation, improving operational efficiencies and reducing costs”.

With regard to the 200 employees affected by the Belmont facility closure, Saputo said they will be provided with financial support, including severance…”

Madison Metro Transit Breaks Ground on Bus Rapid Transit

Election Results 2022

The count is now over and the results are in: Wedan-Rademacher 497 to Rebuild695 330 (average). 89 ballots were set aside as automatic challenges because the employer did not pay their dues in full, so they were held off and not counted. According to 695, Certco and B&G Foods were the employers who have this issue. We’re confident that those votes would have favored us.

The breakdown by office is as follows:

Secretary-TreasurerAndy Sernatinger (Rebuild)332
Secretary-TreasurerLarry Wedan500
PresidentCalvin Schmidt (Rebuild)326
PresidentDavid Brugger501
Vice PresidentLarry Bratz (Rebuild)328
Vice PresidentWilliam Roeth499
Recording SecretaryNimber Abdul-Jalil (Rebuild)327
Recording SecretaryBryan Rademacher499
TrusteeBob Sargent (Rebuild)333
TrusteeGary Gilbertson (Rebuild)340
TrusteeCarlo Camacho (Rebuild)324
TrusteeTom Hoffman497
TrusteeCraig Hrubes487
TrusteeShaun Mullikan496

We did not prevail this election. Between 40-45% of members voted for us (can’t know for certain given the unopened ballots).

Its not the result we wanted, but one we can still be proud of. Its a long road, just another bump on the way. Solidarity.

Guest post: Will there be a national strike at UPS?

Joe Allen, former Teamster and author of The Package King: A Rank and File History of UPS, wrote a piece about what’s going on at UPS. UPS is all over the news these days and the Teamsters are positioning the union to strike during next year’s contract. Joe goes over what’s happening, the history of the 1997 strike, and whether or not there might be a strike next year.

Talk of a national strike at United Parcel Service (UPS) is a welcome change from the two decades of retreat under the Teamsters’ former General President James P. Hoffa. There has only been one national strike in UPS’s history, in 1997, under the leadership of the union’s first democratically elected leader, Ron Carey.

A national strike is long overdue. Rank-and-file UPS Teamsters have paid a catastrophic price for a compliant leadership–Teamsters leader James Hoffa’s ratification in October in 2018 of a contract that members voted down.

Strike talk has been in the air for nearly two years, so few will be ill-prepared if a strike appears imminent. The Teamsters will be holding strike authorization votes across the country next year. We should expect members to vote overwhelmingly in favor. All of the parties interested in preventing a national strike are in the initial stages of mobilizing their forces, including UPS, the Biden administration, and major retail giants reliant on UPS’s delivery network.

The close political relationship between the Teamsters—along with the major trade union federation, the AFL-CIO—and the Biden administration is likely to weaken, if not outright undermine, any move toward a national strike at UPS, despite the bluster coming from union officials. Fred Zuckerman, General Secretary-Treasurer of the Teamsters, recently said, “We want to go to UPS and kick the shit out of them.” Yet, Teamsters officials welcomed the intervention of the Biden administration in the rail negotiations that produced a weak and unpopular tentative agreement.

Part-Time America won’t work

The 1997 UPS strike was enormously popular. Its slogan “Part-Time America Won’t Work” captured the frustration of workers with declining living standards. The hands down victory of the union produced, at least for a moment, a sense that maybe the labor movement had finally reached a turning point. Historian Nelson Lichtenstein wrote at the time that the strike ended “the PATCO syndrome. A 16-year period in which a strike was synonymous with defeat and demoralization.”

UPS’s customers were angered and frustrated at company executives for not warning of the possibility of a strike and had to scramble to find alternative distributors. FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service were overwhelmed by millions of packages that their logistics systems couldn’t handle. More than 80 percent of UPS’s packages sat in its warehouses or trailers across the country. UPS lost nearly $780 million during the course of the strike and suffered a huge black eye as the dirty laundry of working conditions were aired in public.

However, in the weeks and months that followed the strike, the combination of a witch-hunt atmosphere created by the Republican-controlled Congress and criminal investigations by President Bill Clinton’s Department of Justice successfully ousted Ron Carey from the leadership of the Teamsters, and eventually expelled him from the union. This government-sponsored counter-reform coup was the key factor in bringing Hoffa to power for two decades.

UPS, of course, had its dirty fingers in all of this. Its chief negotiator Dave Murray told Carey, “You’re dead, Carey, and you will pay for this, you s.o.b.” The Teamster “old guard” (reactionary, mob-connected officials) also did everything possible to undermine Carey. UPS took full advantage of the chaos produced by the federal government’s intervention and declared it would not honor the centerpiece victory of the strike: the creation of full-time jobs from existing part-time positions.

While UPS would later lose in arbitration and was ordered to honor the full-time jobs provisions of the contract, many Teamsters felt that the strike victory was stolen. UPS won on the political battlefield what it couldn’t win on the picket line. The wider potential of the UPS strike, such as organizing FedEx—a virtual twin of UPS and the natural next step in organizing the burgeoning non-union logistics industry in the 1990s—was thwarted.

That Carey was later found not guilty of the same charges that were used to expel him from the Teamsters had no impact on his standing in the union. While it is a positive development that the 1997 strike has been fully embraced by the new Teamster leadership, this part of the memory of the militant strike has been largely forgotten (or avoided) by reformers, old and new, in the union.

Big Brown today

UPS was a giant in the logistics industry in the 1990s. It is even much larger today. Its distinctive chocolate brown trucks can be seen on the streets of world capitals daily. Based in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs, it employs more than 534,000 people around the globe and flies to 220 countries and territories daily. UPS’s air operations are based out of the “Worldport” air hub in Louisville, Kentucky. It delivers more than 25 million packages a day.

The recent purchase by UPS of Italy’s Bomi Group and the launch of a joint venture with InterGlobe Enterprises, one of India’s largest travel and aviation conglomerates, should remind us that any upcoming contract battle will be a global struggle. Yet the heart of UPS’s operations remain in the United States, where 350,000 drivers and warehouse workers are members of the Teamsters. On a daily basis, UPS transports roughly 6 percent of Gross Domestic Product for the U.S. economy alone, as well as 3 percent of the global economy.

UPS is a politically powerful corporation with a huge influence over trade, transportation, and labor policies in Washington, D.C. and many state capitals. It donates heavily to the Republican Party but also gives money to leading Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock. The two top House committees that receive its political donations are, not surprisingly, Ways and Means (which oversees central aspects of tax law) and Transportation. Eighty-four percent of its donations go to incumbents.The company spent more than eight million dollars on lobbying alone in 2021.

The Trump years were good ones for UPS’s corporate leaders. While the company was cool toward former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, it moved quickly to reconcile with him after his election. UPS contributed heavily to Trump’s 2016 inauguration fund. UPS Executive Chairman David Abney was treated to a state dinner at the Trump White House, while CEO Carol Tomé later hosted Trump at UPS’s facility at Atlanta’s International Airport. UPS was central to Trump administration initiatives in the early months of the pandemic, including Project Airbridge and Operation Warp Speed.

However, relations became strained with Trump following the 2020 presidential election. Tomé denounced the attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. “We are appalled by the lawlessness and violence that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol and strongly condemn the actions of those individuals who participated in the illegal activities that destroyed property and cost lives,” she wrote. Tomé, however, failed to mention Trump by name.

Along with other major corporations, UPS threatened to suspend campaign contributions to U.S. House and Senate Republicans, who voted against the certification of the election of Joe Biden as president, known as the Sedition caucus. Within a few months UPS and other major corporations and corporate lobbying groups changed their minds. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported:

Corporate and industry group political action committees have donated more than $44 million directly to the campaigns and leadership PACs of the 147 members of the Sedition Caucus. Companies and trade associations that pledged to suspend donations have given more than $12 million to the campaign and leadership PACs of the Sedition Caucus.

Koch Industries ($626,500), American Crystal Sugar ($530,000), Home Depot ($525,000), Boeing ($488,000), and UPS ($479,500) have contributed the most money to members of the Sedition Caucus through their corporate PACs.

Tomé’s reconciliation with representatives who legitimized Trump’s attempted presidential coup—and who may control Congress after the November midterm elections— shouldn’t surprise us. Trump lavished huge gifts on UPS and Corporate America that have made them richer.

Meanwhile, Tomé has pursued a “Better not Bigger” restructuring program that appears to have successfully moved it out of the more traditional freight business to focus on its core business of package delivery, given the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the ongoing shift to online shopping. She has also continued a policy of liberalizing dress and hair styles. For years, UPS banned beards and tattoos for its drivers. These and African-American hair styles are accepted now.

Despite the restructuring and liberalization, UPS remains what it has always been—a brutal, totalitarian workplace. This past summer’s heat crisis—leading to the death and illness of UPS package drivers—garnered widespread media attention and left the company with a serious public relations problem. Heat-related illness is also a crucial issue for UPS’s vast army of part-time inside warehouse workers, which hasn’t received the same media coverage.

The Teamsters

When Ron Carey called a strike on August 3, 1997, 185,000 UPS workers across the United States hit the picket lines. Potentially 350,000 workers could be on the picket lines if the Teamsters strike next summer. Fortune magazine reported recently, “Since mid-2018, UPS has hired over 72,000 Teamsters, making them a core segment of the company’s operations.” UPS is the largest Teamster employer and the largest private-sector employer in the United States. Since the 1980s, UPS has been a “union within a union” in the Teamsters.

A crowd of picketers during the 1997 UPS strike holds signs reading "Part-time America won't work!"
1997 UPS strike picket. Photo by Labor Notes.

The explosive growth and wealth of UPS has largely kept the Teamsters alive as a viable, functioning union. If UPS didn’t exist, the Teamsters would be a ramshackle collection of old freight companies and local employers with little national clout. The catastrophic decline of the Teamsters in the freight industry, once their stronghold, since the deregulation of the trucking industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s has been softened by the growth of UPS. Many Teamster locals wouldn’t exist without UPS.

Yet, UPS Teamsters have been underrepresented in the leadership of Teamsters. Only one general president, Ron Carey, was a UPS driver. Neither of the top two officers of the Teamsters, Sean O’Brien and Fred Zuckerman, come out of UPS, even though their home locals are dependent on UPS membership. The Teamsters have maintained their position at UPS not by creative organizing or militant strikes but through agreements made decades ago with UPS that the Teamsters would grow with the company.

The deal worked well for UPS and produced a compliant Teamster leadership that benefited from dues, ad initiation fees, and health and welfare contributions from an expanding workforce without having to lift a finger. The bargaining position of the Teamsters, apart from the Carey years in the 1990s, was one of following the lead of the company and making concession after concession to “protect” it from non-union competitors such as FedEx, which has been particularly devastating to part-timers and package car drivers.

This has left the Teamsters, however, much weakened and very exposed. In 2019, the last year of economic boom before the pandemic, the Teamsters lost 65,000 members. It’s possible that the Teamsters have lost as many as 300,000 members or more across the country during the last decade. At the time of last year’s Teamster election, Hoffa claimed the Teamsters had 1.4 million members. The current General President Sean O’Brien estimates membership is closer to 1.2 million.

Teamster activist Andy Sernatinger wrote in Tempest that the union lost nearly one quarter of a million members between the 2016 and 2021 Teamster elections. He further argued,

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Teamsters, as it did all labor unions, with the temporary closure of non-essential industry and the slowdown of the economy generally. Most of this loss, however, appears to be after the re-opening of the economy. The total number of workers represented went up between 2020 and 2021, but what appears to have happened is that a staggering number of workers have moved from union membership to paying agency fees only. On average, the proportion of agency fee payers to members in the IBT [International Brotherhood of Teamsters] has been three percent—in 2021, it jumped to 20 percent.

The Teamsters initiated a membership recruitment led by John Palmer, the deputy director of organizing, who was specifically assigned to internal organizing targeting right-to-work states. Whatever disagreements there are about the nature and size of the membership, which highlights even more how dependent the Teamsters are on UPS, it is clearly experiencing an institutional crisis that could have a conservatizing impact on its bargaining position with UPS next year.

Missed opportunities

Hoffa declared Amazon an existential threat to the Teamsters—and touted a much-hyped Amazon organizing project. From the grocery industry through the package delivery business, Amazon presents a challenge to old bastions of Teamster strength. But it is not at all clear if the Teamsters can provide a viable option for Amazon workers, given its long list of failed organizing campaigns and decades of unnecessary concessions at UPS.

This past summer, O’Brien and Zuckerman were handed a prime opportunity to take on UPS but failed to do so. The long heat waves that baked major parts of the United States once again highlighted how climate change is becoming more deadly each passing year. Widespread media coverage provided enormous public sympathy for delivery drivers by exposing the fact that UPS delivery trucks don’t have air conditioning.

Teamster General President Sean O’Brien declared, “UPS is on notice. The Teamsters will confront the company aggressively on this issue as the heat rages now, and as we head into the bargaining for the 2023 contract.” Yet, the union did nothing to turn these words into action. Compare this response to the nationwide moment of silence after UPS package driver Frank Ordoñez was murdered in a hail of gunfire by various law enforcement agencies in December 2019 in Miami following a botched robbery. Why wasn’t a nationwide moment of silence organized by the Teamsters for Esteban Chavez, the UPS driver who died from heat stroke?

While Teamsters did launch a national contract campaign at UPS during the first week of August to coincide with the anniversary of the 1997 strike, which was welcomed by Teamsters across the country, we should be clear that the rallies were quite tame and low stakes. I don’t know of any locals where the union organized anything that looked like a picket line. The union has a long way to go for the rhetoric of the leadership to catch up with the reality of what it takes to carry out a national strike.

Is a strike inevitable?

One of the most important things to understand about the success of the 1997 UPS strike was that Big Brown didn’t expect a strike and didn’t prepare for one. Neither did the federal government. Many rank-and-file UPS Teamsters were surprised that the picket lines held on the first of the strike—and for another fourteen days. It was the first national strike in the company’s 90-year history.

A black-and-white photo of eight workers leaning over the hood of a car signing a strike petition. The photo has a brown and yellow frame with text reading, "United for a Strong Contract! Kicking off August 1, 2022. UPS Teamsters Call to Action."
Photo by Joe Allen, via Facebook.

A clash is again coming between the company and the union, but the form it will take is still to be seen. The Teamsters want an end to the two-tier, lower paid package car drivers, the use of part timers driving personal vehicles, and greater protections against overtime. UPS wants more “flexibility.” These positions can’t be reconciled without a strike in which one side wins and other loses.

If there is one thing we’ve learned from the strike wave in the U.S. (and the changes in leadership of the Teamsters) during the last two years, it is that the rank-and-file is fed up with the status quo and wants fundamental change. Whether or not there is a national strike at UPS in 2023 will ultimately be up to rank-and-file Teamsters who will have to push it toward victory against their many enemies.

You cannot threaten members

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.

Last week to vote!

This is the last week to mark and turn in your ballot to make sure it is counted on 10/26. If for any reason you haven’t filled out your ballot, make sure you get it in the mail by Saturday 10/22 to be sure it is counted!

Quick updates

Ballots have gone out – they were mailed Friday, September 30th and by now every eligible member of 695 should have received mail from the Merriman-River group with your ballot.

The election has two slates, though you are able to vote for individual candidates if you would like. Its important that you do not write on your ballot, just fill it in. We are encouraging a slate vote for Rebuild695 — just fill in the oval next to “Rebuild695” at the top and it will cast your vote for every candidate on our slate.

Ballots will be counted the morning of Wednesday, October 26th at the Teamsters 695 union hall. To make sure your ballot is counted, it has to be received by that morning – to be safe, be sure your ballot is mailed by Friday, 10/21.

If you have not received a ballot or lost yours, you can request a replacement ballot by calling Merriman-River Group at 877-324-7655.

Talk to your folks, make sure they’re turning in those ballots!