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PROD dissident Bill Weed: “I ran because there was nobody else.” filing suit in federal district court against Local 745 for alleged intentional failure to find jobs for almost 100 Dallas-area teamsters, each of whom is credited with thousands of dollars in the union’s pension funds. Caperton says that his clientsmost of them lost their jobs when A&P closed its doors in 1974are near retirement after an average of nearly 20 years of work, and that the union is keeping their money. Unfortunately for the unemployed truckers, their lawsuit may not help. Until passage of the 1975 pension reform act, the collection of union pension benefits was an all-or-nothing proposition. A worker’s pension deductions were forfeited to his union’s treasury if he did not stay on the active membership rolls up to retirement age. Says Caperton: “It’s unjust enrichmenta terrible thing.” Pension questions and leadership salaries aside, many members of the local charge that the union does not stick up for them in grievance disputes. In a ‘ grievance proceeding, three members of the company and three members of the union form a board to hear charges filed by an employer against a teamster. The union member ostensibly has three guys in his corner at the outset, but in fact the union leadership and the company may have a common interest in getting rid of a dissident. The dissidents Consider the case of 28-year-old Larry Davis. In 1972, while on the payroll as a forklift operator at Mid-Continent Freight Lines, he joined a reform group, Teamsters United for Rank and File. One day, not long after he got involved with TURF, Davis came to work though he felt sick. He took two Darvons, became dizzy, and asked to go home. Instead of excusing him, Davis’ foreman accused him of drunkenness on the job. When Davis asked for a blood test, the foreman fired him and called the police. “I asked the police for a blood test,” Davis told the Observer, “but they said, `Hell, we can tell you’re drunk.’ I got out of jail after four hours and I called the union hall and they told me not to worry.” A Dallas court cleared Davis of the drunk charge, but his grievance dispute was another matter: He lost, depite assurances about job reinstatement he had received from union officials. In the five years since the grievance hearing, two trucking firms have offered Davis permanent work. He says, however, that the union has never given him the necessary authorization. Today, Davis works as an exterminator. Some, including the Labor Department’s Spelver, lay the blame for this “Union democracy is a luxury. A job is a necessity. When people who speak out against the established hierarchy . . . lose their jobs, that really puts the chill into the rank and file.” brand of unionism on an apathetic rank and file. But John Sikorski, executive director of the Professional Drivers Counington-based, Nader-founded Teamster reform group, offers another view. “Union democracy is a luxury. A job is a necessity. When people who speak out against the established hierarchy . . . lose their jobs, that really puts the chill into the rank and file.” In the last year and a half, the experiences of a handful of dissident Dallas teamsters who have dared to go against the status quo at Local 745 support Sikorski’s assertion. William T. Weed, a dockworker at East Texas Motor Freight, in northwest Dallas, decided to run for secretarytreasurer in the local’s December 1975 election. Weed says he got into the race because he felt the incumbents were not representing the rank and file. He thought someone ought at least to oppose Charles Haddock, then president of the union, who was seeking to replace retiring chief W.L. Piland. “I ran,” says Weed, “because there was nobody else to do itperiod.” In the same election, Hall Nichols and O.T. Araiza, two Red Ball .Motor Freight drivers, challenged the leadership’s candidates for president and trustee. Weed did not know Nichols or Araiza before the November nominating meeting, but the three wound up campaigning together. Nichols says he ran “because the local had been a dictatorship for more than 20 years. Out of seven seats on the union executive committee, only three were contested. Even if the upstart tfio won, they would be a minority on the committee. But there was little chance of victory. Weed, Nichols and Araiza were not well known at their own work places, let alone at the warehouses, trucking companies and factories in Dallas and the outlying towns of Waco, Sulfur Springs, Tyler and Longview where Local 745 was entrenched. The incumbents, meanwhile, had representatives and business agents meeting continually with the rank and file. The challengers faced the usual problems of outsiders in all elections, and they made things harder for themselves by deciding to run on the spur of the moment; they had no money, no organization, and little idea of how to unseat the current officeholders. These were the least of their worries. At the nominating meeting itself, Weed says, “henchmen” approached him and said: “You don’t want to run for the job.” Soon Weed began receiving hostile, anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night. “They threatened my daughter. They said they were going to kill us. They continually harassed us.” Weed and Nichols paid for their own campaign materials and spent their vacations on the stump. They say they had to THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7