Tuesday, January 17, 2017


         The easiest way to win an election in a Teamsters local is to bring internal union charges against a potential opponent. The local’s executive board sits in judgement of the accused with a guilty verdict effectively eliminating him/her from the election.
          The incumbent officers of New York Teamsters Local 804 have a compelling reason to block Tim Sylvester from running for reelection as president of the local next year.
          Sylvester, a close ally of the late Ron Carey, won the presidency of Local 804 in 2009 and was reelected in 2012. He was ousted from that office by just 70 votes in 2015 after he had announced he was running for general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters  on the Teamsters United slate against incumbent James P. Hoffa.
          As a result of losing Local 804’s presidency, Sylvester switched his candidacy to general secretary-treasurer enabling Fred Zuckerman to become Teamsters United's presidential candidate. In last year’s election, Local 804 members gave Teamster United a smashing victory over Hoffa by a vote of 1835 to 295--a margin of 1,540 votes.
          That 1,540 vote margin must have sent chills through the Local 804 incumbents, who won their 70-vote victory over Sylvester with the help of the Hoffa forces.
          Local 804’s officers, who will sit in judgement, have charged Sylvester with embezzlement for cashing in his accrued vacation when he departed as the local’s president, which Teamsters United contends is a common and permissible practice..
          Teamsters United has branded the charges as baseless, “a political smear campaign by Hoffa and the Local 804 officers who do his bidding.”
          The Teamsters court-appointed Independent Investigations Officer would do well to examine whether the charges against Sylvester are valid or politically-motivated and whether the Hoffa forces played a role in bringing them. Stealing an election is just as serious--perhaps more--as looting a union treasury or pension fund.


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