Dissident members of Teamsters Local 63 charge that they were attacked and beaten outside a union office in Montebello Saturday night in a deliberate attempt to prevent them from participating in union nominations. Union officials, however, deny the charge.
One man was stabbed and two other men beaten in the incident now under investigation, Montebello police said. All three victims were supporters of Jim Bender, who said he intended to challenge incumbent Robert Marciel for secretary-treasurer, the union's most powerful position.
Teamsters Local 63 represents approximately 14,000 truck drivers, meat cutters, bakery and dairy workers in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The union held nominations Saturday and a seven-member slate headed by Marciel was unopposed for three-year terms. He will assume the term automatically.
Bender, who said he was knocked unconscious and kicked repeatedly in the attack, said a group of men who attacked him and several of his supporters all wore identical navy blue T-shirts that said "Re-elect Marciel Secretary Treasurer." Bender charged the attack was orchestrated by Marciel, and said he has filed a protest with the Teamsters International in Washington. Officials there could not be reached for comment.
"It's a bunch of nonsense, It's uncalled for," said Bender, 53, "He (Marciel) did not want anyone running against him."
Marciel, secretary-treasurer for the past seven years, said he was inside the Teamster office during the incident and knew nothing about it.
"I welcome any investigation. We have nothing to hide. Let's have an election tomorrow and I'll beat (Bender). Any time your (fellow) members slap you around that ought to tell you something."
Montebello police records say that Bender, of Fountain Valley, was treated by paramedics for head cuts and transported to Beverly Hospital in Montebello. Others treated were Philip Dinenno, 53, of Chatsworth, who was treated for nose and face cuts and also taken to Beverly Hospital, and Harry Rodriguez, 44, of La Puente, who was admitted to Kaiser Hospital in Bellflower with two puncture wounds in his back.
Group of 50 Men
Two Bender supporters interviewed by The Times said a group of about 50 men wearing Marciel T-shirts attacked Bender and his supporters.
"Once we got there they just started knocking down the men, everyone who was around Bender, and they were kicking them," said Hettie Jean Cole, who witnessed the attack. "It was like a riot."
Another Bender supporter, Jim Ivins, who said he was among those attacked, said, "We were set upon by thugs and I watched people get the hell stomped out of them. I probably got kicked a couple of times in the back. I've been a Teamster for roughly 30 years in Los Angeles County and I thought this kind of crap went out in the 1950s."