Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fred Gegare’s June Surprise

With the Teamsters 2011 convention a little more than three weeks away, Fred Gegare has come up with a June Surprise: Aaron Belk, the late Ron Carey’s executive assistant, has been added to his Fighting for the Members Slate as a candidate for Southern Region vice president.
Aside from rising from a loading dock in Memphis to the top of the Teamsters’ hierarchy by being elected an international vice president on Carey’s reform slate in 1991, Belk distinguished himself in trying—though unsuccessfully—to block the political contributions in 1996 that resulted in Carey’s downfall. At a 1998 Congressional hearing, Belk testified: “I can hold my head high and I can look at myself in the mirror each morning knowing that I did my job to the best of my ability by turning down these large contribution requests and by refusing to support and condone the actions of the 1996 Carey campaign staff and their consultants.”
At the end of this month, we’ll find out whether Gegare, currently an international vice president, will make the 2011 Teamsters election a three-way race by overcoming the barrier facing all outside candidates of being nominated for president by winning the votes of five percent of the 1,700 or so delegates to the Teamsters convention in Las Vegas.
James P. Hoffa, the incumbent international president, and New York Teamsters Local 805 president Sandy Pope are expected to be the other two candidates in the fall election. Hoffa, barring the unforeseen, certainly will be nominated. Pope has the backing of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the nationwide reform group, whose support was crucial to Carey two elections in 1991 and 1996 to the presidency of the Teamsters. Last month, Pope announced she had enough delegates pledged to be nominated.
Pope is running alone—without a slate—hoping to win the votes of the rank and file by contrasting her history as Teamster over the past 33 years—working as a selector, a truck driver, a local union organizer, an international staffer, and finally elected president of a local—against Hoffa’s scant background with summer jobs as a Teamster while in college and later as a lawyer. He was elected international president in 1998 primarily because he was the son of the legendary Jimmy Hoffa. Gegare—who has 39 years of experience at every level of the Teamsters—split with Hoffa last year proclaiming his leadership was disastrous.

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