WASHINGTON -- Dissident members of a leading maritime industry union have scored a major electoral upset, seizing key leadership posts in a victory they said will help restore union democracy and protect a $1 billion Baltimore-based pension fund.
Dissident candidates ousted more than a dozen top officials of the District 1 Marine Engineers Beneficial Association/National Maritime Union.
"People wanted a change," said Gordon Ward, a Timonium resident who will take over as chairman of the union's licensed division, which represents about 4,800 marine engineers and ships' officers nationwide. "This was really a grass-roots effort."
Mr. Ward and other dissident candidates had charged that District 1 officials, led by President C. E. "Gene" DeFries, had stolen millions from union coffers after the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association's 1988 merger with the National Maritime Union and were plotting a sellout of the separate marine engineers' pension fund.