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Teamsters Local elect new leaders

Rochester Business Journal
December 12, 2013

In what the newly elected slate hopes will end some two years of internal strife, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 118 members have chosen new leaders.

The election comes on the heels of a contentious contract negotiation with Wegmans Food Markets Inc. and with a trusteeship imposed nearly two years ago on the Rochester-area local by International Brotherhood president James Hoffa still in effect.

“We look forward to General President Hoffa releasing us from trusteeship,” said Local 118 president-elect Paul Markwitz, in a statement.

He called the long-delayed election’s completion presumably the last step toward the release of the trusteeship.

Citing bitter rivalries among members of Local 118’s executive board, Hoffa imposed the trusteeship in April 2012, putting the local under control of two appointed trustees and putting elections on indefinite hold.

Six months later, Hoffa told the local that after reviewing the situation, he had decided to not return control to local leaders.

Though the trusteeship had “compelled former officers to maintain some level of civility,” it seemed likely the local’s rival factions would resume their feud if it were lifted, Hoffa wrote.

Some 900 Wegmans truckers and warehouse workers account for a significant slice of the roughly 4,300-member local’s membership. And the Wegmans contract figured prominently in the local’s factional rift. 

Amid bitterly hurled claims and counter claims of financial improprieties by each side against the other, an anti-Markwitz union steward sued the local, the International union and a Markwitz ally. The lawsuit accused the ally—now the local’s newly elected secretary-treasurer, Christopher Toole—of illegally colluding with the supermarket chain to gain traction for the Markwitz faction in the struggle for control of the local. 

After some seven months of contentious talks over the expired pact, the teamsters voted down the first deal their negotiators reached with Wegmans and authorized a strike before finally reaching an accord last month.
 
In a statement released Thursday announcing their victory, the Markwitz slate expressed the hope their win of the union poll by “a solid majority” would end the local’s internecine conflict.

In addition to Markwitz and Toole, the newly elected slate includes Vice President Mike Maynard, Recording Secretary William Allen and trustees John Emrich, Larry Thibault and Jeffrey Sargent.
 
“Now that the unfortunate challenges we have faced over the past 20 months are behind us,” said Markwitz, in the statement, “we can get busy uniting the membership and demonstrate to the community that Teamsters local 118 has restored its integrity within organized labor.”

(c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail service@rbj.net.
 



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