Teamster chief retains control of convention Carey wins a skirmish in battle with rival Hoffa

July 20, 1996|By NEWSDAY NTC

PHILADELPHIA -- The weeklong Teamsters convention ended yesterday with the union's president, Ronald Carey, emerging as the victor over rival James P. Hoffa in their battle over the financing of the union.

After five days of successfully blunting votes on Hoffa's proposed constitutional changes, Carey, to the chagrin of his opposition, gaveled the convention to a close.

The end came despite unfinished business.

Hoffa had a clear majority of the 1,800 delegate votes, but Carey held the upper hand because he chaired the convention.

Carey announced that after the November election for the union presidency, in which Hoffa will run against him, a special convention will be held to tie up the loose ends left from this past week's convention.

"This is a shocking development," Hoffa said. "It's just an outrage." He said that the 1,100 Teamsters who have waged a yearlong strike against the Detroit newspapers will continue to get $55 a week in strike benefits instead of about $160 a week under his proposed strike fund program.

Carey said that while Hoffa's plan to increase strike benefits sounded good, the underlying goal was to cripple the financially squeezed international union by stripping $30 million from the treasury over the coming year. That, Carey said, would force immediate cutbacks in programs and staff.

Hoffa's plan would have shifted $15 million from the union's general fund into the strike fund Aug. 1, along with allocating to the strike fund $1 of the $4.90-per-capita monthly dues that union locals pay to the international on behalf of their members.

Hoffa maintains that his plan is workable because there is a lot of waste that can be trimmed.

Michael H. Belzer, a labor analyst at Cornell University, declared Carey the victor in the political infighting at the convention.

"Carey won in the narrow sense that Hoffa didn't get what he wanted," Belzer said.

"He wasn't able to mount an effective floor strategy. Carey combined an effective floor strategy with his control of the chair to stymie Hoffa's initiatives."

Although they are divided over leadership, Teamsters stood and cheered when striking Detroit News and Free Press workers were introduced.

Pub Date: 7/20/96

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