Teamsters' Head Continues Crusade Against Corruption
CLEANING UP IMAGE
HE calls it the ``New'' International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In a Monitor interview, Ron Carey, president of the international union, talks about his efforts to clean up the organization:
What progress are you making on cleaning up the Teamsters, and where are you going?
Wherever corruption raises its ugly head, we have gone in there and just cut if off. It won't be accepted in this union. We put together an Ethical Practices Committee, which is doing a fine job. But if there are allegations of corruption that I hear about, we don't wait for the Ethical Practices Committee. I act on it immediately. We've got 20 something trusteeships, which is probably a record in this union. And we're taking on some of the most difficult local unions.
When I first got into office, we had no mechanism to do investigative work on the people we appointed. So we appointed [William F.] Genoese and that was indeed a mistake on our part. [Last month, Carey ousted Mr. Genoese, whom a mafia defector identified as a major mob associate in the union's airline employees division.] But now we have a safety net in place by having an investigative firm that investigates all these appointments.
What effect did the Genoese appointment have?
That caused a tremendous rift between the government and what we were trying to do.
Didn't they argue against the Genoese appointment?
Yes they did, but they had information I didn't have.
Why didn't they share it with you?
I have no idea. I think that has been part of the problem. I think there seems to be a better communications network in place now.
Where do you stand now - is the union cleaned up?
No, I have no sense of how much is really out there, but I can tell you this. I think a lot of folks out there are running for cover. I have been a union officer for many years and I am tired of being embarrassed and I think we have got that quite behind us. How much is out there? I can only tell you that wherever it exists and wherever it raises its head, I have told you what I will do with it. The more trusteeships and the more things I do to get this union on the right track, the more flack I will take, the more bashing, the more stories, the more rumors.
You just have to ask one question: Who benefits if Ron Carey does not succeed? The mob, the good old boys, the ``let's get it back'' crowd.
Well, what about an article in Time magazine which cites an FBI report that quotes an informant - Mr. D'Arco - as saying that you have links to the mob?
It is just nonsense. Absolute nonsense. You boil the story down, and the one fact that stands out is that Ron Carey respects picket lines. You are darn right I do and I will always respect picket lines. But it is one thing that sticks: the teamsters, corruption, and the mob. It sticks because of the history. But I'll tell you the government has looked me over and over again.
It is a difficult time. My wife and kids get very upset. They know what I care about, they know my associations. It gets to the point where if you like Italian food, you can't go to a restaurant. It's the truth - if somebody is after you they say, ``There it is, we knew it all the time.'' Another thing about that article. How do you cross-examine and ascertain information from someone you are not permitted to talk to? We've tried to figure that one out. What better argument could the mob have?
When you go back and look at where those stories came from, it goes back to the same people who ran this union. But none of this has hurt our credibility because people who know what to read and look for know it is nonsense.