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
THE FEUDAL LORDS VS. THE RANK AND FILE
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.”
ALLIANCES WITH THE LEFT
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.
LIBERAL RESPONSE TO MILITANT UNIONISM
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.
THE OLD GUARD FIGHTS BACK
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.”
THE LIBERALS STEP IN
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 INTERNATIONAL STEPS IN
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.
TEAMSTERS FOR DEMOCRACY
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 BEGINNINGS OF THE STRUGGLE
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”.
THE TRUSTEES TIGHTEN THEIR CONTROL
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.
ELECTION POST MORTEM
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]