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The Teamster Scandal Introduction The contest for leadership of the Teamsters reflects a deep struggle over fundamental principles The union today is a battleground between reformers committed to union democracy and workers power in the workplace and a small group of officials defending their own power and the perks of office Two models of unionism - really two models of society and politics - contend for the hearts and minds of the Teamster members This is a struggle for the soul of the union They were once called the New Teamsters but the reform administration of former president Ron Carey has shattered into pieces since Carey stepped down because of corruption charges last year Three rival factions in the union - sometimes called the Old Guard the Reformers and the Traditionalists - contend for power Each has a presidential candidate running for office respectively Jimmy Hoffa Jr Tom Leedham and John Metz The national union leadership and staff have become deeply divided The tragedy of all of this is that with the election of Ron Carey in 1991 it seemed as if the huge union so long dominated by organized crime had finally turned the corner Six years later the promise of reform seemed fulfilled when Carey led 185000 Teamsters in a strike against United Parcel Service UPS the powerful package delivery company With months of careful preparation and rank-and-file organization the Teamsters succeeded in keeping full-time and part-time workers united In August 1997 after a solid strike that got the support of two-thirds of the American people the union won against UPS on such issues as creating more full-time jobs and stopping the trend toward contracting out Although UPS is now trying to renege on hiring more full-timers the victory represents not just Careys accomplishments but the gradual transformation of the union over some twenty years largely through the efforts of the reform group Teamsters for a Democratic Union TDU Over two decades
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