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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lopez denies rigging union election; factions explained

Maywood trustee Richard Lopez, who recently ascended to the presidency of Teamsters Local 743, was indicted for disenfranchising the members of his union to keep his ticket in control of the local.

Proviso Herald (David Pollard)
interviewed Lopez.
"I got a lawyer looking over it," he said about the indictment. "I don't understand what's going on here. I think it's politics. It's just (George) Bush politics. I've never done anything wrong and I don't admit to doing anything wrong."

Lopez characterized the losing slate as making sour grapes allegations of election fraud as an excuse for losing. The opposition, 743 New Leadership Slate, has a web site that allows comments.

Lopez is right that election losers often complain of fraud. But it's rare that law enforcement authorities bring charges. And U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has an exceptional conviction rate. As far as I know in every political case where Fitzgerald has brought an indictment the defendant has been convicted of at least some of the charges.

Normally union elections are skewed in favor of the incumbents. It's difficult to organize an insurgency from within the ranks.

Richard Berg, ran as one of the opposition candidates, explained that there are two factions vying for control of Local 743. The incumbents are aligned with International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, son of iconic union boss Jimmy Hoffa, Jr.

The opposition slate was aligned with Tom Leedham. Leedham was supported by Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

Richard Berg ran on Leedham's slate as Central Region Vice President. Berg received 41% of the vote.

Berg says that the anti-Hoffa faction does not want the union put into trusteeship as a result of the charges against Lopez and his slate. Berg explained that if the local was put into trusteeship Hoffa would appoint the leadership who would then work to marginalize the opposition. Berg expressed confidence that he and his allies can win a free and fair election at this point.

Berg says that Lopez was not slated to be one of the candidates in the upcoming election.

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