With less than three weeks remaining before the Teamsters Union convenes its national convention under unprecedented government reform rules, the largest Teamsters local in Southern California is still squabbling about who should represent its membership.
Government-appointed election overseers said Monday that results of a second delegate election in Teamsters Local 63--called after the first election was invalidated--will not be certified until further charges of ballot-tampering are investigated.
In the initial delegate election last March, supporters of a growing Teamsters reform movement won 14 of 17 delegate seats in Local 63, which represents 13,000 members from Barstow to Bakersfield.
However, the union's independent administrator--appointed as part of a federal court settlement in which the Teamsters gave the government broad powers to clean up the union--invalidated the results because of inadvertent ballot printing errors.
The election was ordered rerun in May, but controversy arose again. This time, members of the reform slate complained that supporters of an opposing slate with links to the local's leadership were offering to pick up ballots from some union members.
Government-appointed election officials said they substantiated that accusation in "at least" nine cases, calling it "a most serious violation" of rules governing delegate selection. The rules are intended to produce the first democratically conducted election in the history of the scandal-plagued Teamsters Union.
Ballots were counted over the weekend in the second election. But on Monday, election officials said only that the slate linked to the local's leadership--the Informed Teamsters for the Good of All Slate--had beaten the reform slate, which is pledged to support Teamsters presidential candidate Ron Carey of New York. Carey is the endorsed candidate of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, which proposes drastically restructuring the union and hopes to push through a series of reform amendments during the convention in Orlando, Fla.
However, election officials said they were continuing to investigate allegations of balloting interference against the Informed Teamsters slate. They said it may be more than a week before a decision is made on whether to certify the results of the second election.
Informed Teamsters is not pledged to a particular Teamsters presidential candidate. However, the head of Local 63, Secretary-Treasurer Bob Marciel, is pledging his support to presidential candidate Walter Shea, an international vice president of the union. Shea and another international vice president, R.V. Durham, are considered the two leading presidential candidates within the union's Establishment.