Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A review of THE TRUCKERS by Kenneth C. Crowe

The following review of THE TRUCKERS appeared in the Association for Union Democracy’s Jan. 4, 2011 edition of $100 Plus News. It is reprinted with AUD’s permission:

THE TRUCKERS by Kenneth C. Crowe
(CreateSpace, Charleston, SC: 2010) 300pgs.
Available in paperback on Amazon.com for $9.99 and
as an e-book on Kindle and Smashwords.com


This is an entertaining and fictional account of
the administration of a reformist IBT international
President called Tommy Kerrigan. The
novel is very loosely based on the Carey presidency
of the 1990s. But it is clearly fiction, and
Mr. Kerrigan’s fate turns out to be very different
than Mr. Carey’s. Mr. Crowe dedicates the
novel to Ken Paff, then, and still, director of the
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) --
who in the novel is the fictional character
“Helmut Knall.”
A very palpable tension between Kerrigan and
Helmut Knall’s “TFOCC” (“Truckers Fighting
Organized Crime and Corruption”) is present
throughout the story. The reader is introduced
to it on page 11, when Kerrigan is planning his
post-election victory party and is consulting
with his top aide “Cobb Wowka” on who
should be on the invitation list. Wowka advises
Kerrigan not to invite Knall, but Kerrigan
reminds Wowka that “TFOCC did a lot for us.”
Wowka replies “Not for us. For their agenda.
Never forget that... Now that you’ve won,
Helmut and crew might get a little hungry for a
piece of action, which is okay, but we want to
keep them at a certain distance. Don’t let them
get the notion they’re gonna run this union
instead of you.” Kerrigan responds accordingly:
“I’ll give ‘em a couple of jobs. I’m sure we
can find an opening for Helmut in Alaska or
Hawaii.” “Right on buddy,” replies Wowka.
Helmut Knall is a smart, no-nonsense, pain-inthe-
neck whose advice to Kerrigan seems
always to be ahead of the game and works each
time Kerrigan does follow it. But Knall’s first
piece of advice, Kerrigan does not follow. The
uninvited Knall interrupts the victory party and
demands to speak to Kerrigan -- Kerrigan
reluctantly gives him a few minutes -- and
Knall points out that though Kerrigan has won
a great victory he needs to remember that most
of the locals are still being run by the “old
guard” -- the officials who owe their allegiance
to “Steamer Staski” and his successors. The
Steamer Staski character is loosely based on
the administration of Jimmy Hoffa, Sr. On his
victory party night, Knall implores Kerrigan to
help Trucker reformers get elected in the locals:
“The union is the locals, the locals are the
union. You should know.” But Kerrigan is
never willing to do this, as he tells Knall time
and time again throughout the book that an
“International President should not get
involved in the politics of the local.”
Meanwhile, the “old guard” infiltrate the
Kerrigan administration, and become his most
trusted aides, only to betray him, and eventually
succeed in their goal to get rid of him.
Sabotage by the old guard starts with its defiance
of Kerrigan’s call to go on a strike, then
moves on to a series of “dirty tricks” and smear
campaigns having to do with Kerrigan’s personal
relationships and alleged ties to organized
crime. Using its influence with an all too
compliant press, and even the FBI and Justice
Department, the old guard overwhelms
Kerrigan with government investigations into
alleged links to organized crime, or “communists.”
Knall advises Kerrigan on union strategy -- it
was the TFOCC’s plan to strike a major carrier,
a strike which turned out to be a a smashing success,
and makes Kerrigan a hero within the union. Later,
Knall and the TFOCC bail out Kerrigan
in another strike when the old guard begins to sabotage
it. But as the dirty tricks by the old guard become more
and more outrageous, and the investigations proceed,
mob characters appear – and are ready to go after
Kerrigan, reacting to schemes orchestrated by
Kerrigan’s union foes.
In the end, Kerrigan makes great gains for the Trucker
rank and file in its battles with employers, but, sadly,
is unable to withstand the relentless assault by his
internal union enemies.

A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

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