12/21/07

Notorious Teamsters local suspends 2 bosses

A Teamsters panel has suspended two men who were elected to top posts in Local 377 and ordered a new election. Teamsters Joint Council 41 issued an order this week that suspended Ray DePasquale from being a union member or officer for three years and Chris Colello for two years.

The Cleveland-based panel upheld charges against DePasquale that said he handed out phony cards for safety certification, called a strike without proper approval, improperly removed a membership roster from the union hall and improperly removed or shredded a variety of other documents.

Charges that were upheld against Colello involved calling of the strike and improperly removing the membership roster.

In an October election, DePasquale unseated Bob Bernat as secretary-treasurer, the top position in the Youngstown-based local. DePasquale had been a business agent before the election. Colello was re-elected president.

DePasquale and Colello can appeal the suspensions. Neither could be reached but denied any wrongdoing when the charges were filed.

Bernat said he fired both men when he received the decision. He said he's concerned the election problems will hurt the image of the local, which represents 3,800 workers in Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties. "The damage that they have caused will take years to repair," he said.

The joint council said a new election should be held as soon as possible and added that an outside representative could be appointed to assist. Bernat said terms of the current executive board expire Dec. 31 and Teamsters officials could appoint a trustee to oversee the local until a new election is held.

The charges were filed by Bernat and union member Randal Anzevino, who had complained about the phony training cards being passed out to others. Bernat said he noticed documents missing from the union hall during campaigning and set up cameras in the hall to provide surveillance after hours.

The ruling from the joint council said DePasquale had taken documents from Bernat's mailbox and a secretary's desk. Some documents were shredded inside the office. Bernat said he thinks documents were taken in order to prevent him from adequately representing union members in negotiations with companies. The joint council called the taking of the membership roster a serious offense because it is not to be used in campaigning.

Bernat and Colello were elected on the same slate nine years ago and have served together since. Before this year's election, however, Colello joined with DePasquale on a new slate called United Together.

(vindy.com)

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