International removes local union chief amid allegations of wrongdoing

2013-07-10T00:45:00Z International removes local union chief amid allegations of wrongdoingBy TONY REID -- H&R Staff Writer Herald-Review.com
July 10, 2013 12:45 am  • 

DECATUR — The president of Teamsters union Local 279 in Decatur was removed from office amid allegations of wrongdoing, according to the union’s national leadership.

Jerry Connor was replaced June 28 with a trustee appointed to run the affairs of the local in an order signed by James P. Hoffa, the Teamsters general president.

A notice outlining the reasons for the trusteeship is now displayed at Local 279 offices. It says Hoffa’s action comes in the wake of the findings of an independent review board that investigated allegations against Connor and other local union leaders.

The review board’s findings accuse Connor of giving himself a $293 weekly pay hike without getting the approval of the Local’s executive board. It then claims Connor, along with other officers, “concocted the story that there was a special meeting of the executive board Aug. 27, 2012, at which Connor’s unapproved salary increase was approved.”

It’s further alleged that “phony minutes” for this meeting were drawn up and other records altered as part of a cover-up. Hoffa accuses Connor of false testimony to support these claims when he was grilled by the review board. It claims he asked other members of Local 279 executive board to back him with false testimony and they did so, but they later recanted and admitted the special meeting story was false.

Connor could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A reading of the union bylaws suggests he has the right to appeal.

In his letter to Local 279, Hoffa lists other findings of fault with Connor. It’s claimed he breached his fiduciary duty by “causing the local to pay for at least one campaign mailing” in connection with his candidacy to be an international vice president with the Teamsters.

Connor is also accused of arranging for Local 279 to buy a trailer from him without getting the authorization of the Local’s executive board. Hoffa also alleges the Local’s trustees have “consistently failed” to conduct monthly examinations of the Local’s financial books and records, as required by their own bylaws.

“Accordingly… I have determined that an immediate trusteeship of Local 279 is necessary for the purpose of correcting corruption or financial malpractice and otherwise carrying out the legitimate objects of the local union,” Hoffa wrote.

That trustee is now in place but declined comment Tuesday. The Teamsters head office in Washington, D.C. confirmed Connor’s removal but said it would have nothing else to say. “A trusteeship is an internal process, and we do not comment on that internal process,” a spokesman added.

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