Teamsters official: Union not part
of Norcal scandal
By Jason Bennert, Bay City News Service
July 6, 2006
SAN JOSE (BCN) - The Teamsters do not expect to be named
as unindicted co-conspirators in San Jose's Norcal garbage case
because they never made any "backroom deals,'' the leader
of the Teamsters local that represents the workers at the heart
of the scandal said today.
Bob Morales, the secretary-treasurer of Local 350, and Chuck
Mack, the president of the council representing all 55,000 Bay
Area Teamsters, held a news conference in San Jose this afternoon
to discuss the scandal that has resulted in the indictment of
San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, his chief aide Joe Guerra and Norcal
Waste Systems in connection with a 2000 city contract for garbage
and recycling services.
Prosecutors allege that Gonzales, Guerra and Norcal, without
informing the San Jose City Council or the public, conspired in
2000 to have the 55 people working on San Jose's recyclables sorting
line represented by the Teamsters instead of the longshoremen's
union and to have city ratepayers cover the difference in salaries
and benefits because the Teamsters had a more lucrative contract.
The conspiracy resulted in the City Council approving a 9 percent
garbage rate increase in 2003 for what it thought were other unanticipated
Morales said media reports have unfairly tied the Teamsters to
the alleged offenses of Gonzales, Guerra and Norcal. The Teamsters
have represented the sorting line workers since San Jose established
its recycling program in 1993 and the longshoremen's union has
never represented any of the city's sanitation workers.
"We had previously represented the approximately 55 employees,''
Morales said. "At no time did the longshoremen's union have
one member working.''
Morales and other Teamsters officials did lobby Gonzales and
the City Council in 2000 to ensure that the sorting line workers
did not face a pay cut or loss of benefits when Norcal took over
the garbage and recycling contract.
"They wanted to protect them through the transition,'' Mack
That lobbying was perfectly legal and some of it was done at
an open City Council meeting when Morales and other union officials
addressed the council about the contract. Morales said he does
not think the union will be named an unindicted co conspirator
when the grand jury transcripts are made public later this month.
"We're not expecting that,'' Morales said.
Morales said the Teamsters have excellent relations with the
longshoremen's union and he believes the longshoremen may have
been misled by Norcal and told that the sorting line workers were
not represented by a union.
"They were told this is an opportunity for you to gain 50
jobs,'' Morales said.
Sorting line worker Robert Hernandez attended today's news conference.
He said he has worked for the various contractors who have held
San Jose's recycling contract since 1993 and always been represented
by the Teamsters. The sorting line workers would have remained
Teamsters in 2000 even if given the opportunity to change unions,
"Even if there had been a vote we still would have stayed
with the Teamsters,'' Hernandez said.
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