COLLISION by Kenneth C. Crowe


How the Rank and File Took Back the Teamsters
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 The gritty, well-told tale of an overdue change in leadership at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Newsday labor correspondent Crowe (America for Sale, 1978) recounts how Ron Carey, erstwhile head of a UPS local in N.Y.C., last December became the first general president of the IBT to be democratically elected in many a decade. But before explaining how his working-class hero gained an office once held by the infamous likes of Dave Beck, Jimmy Hoffa, and Jackie Presser, Crowe delivers a detailed rundown on the factors that made reform necessary as well as possible. Noting, for instance, that the US Department of Justice had been pushing the mob-influenced union to clean up its act for 30 or more years, the author details the agency's preparation of racketeering charges during the late 1980's. On the eve of a jury trial, though, the case was settled by a 1989 consent decree that provided for the appointment of three court-appointed monitors, who eventually modified the rules that had permitted corrupt regimes to perpetuate themselves. Crowe then offers a frequently engrossing account of how an independent upstart bested two representatives of the old guard. The lengthy, closely watched campaign, he shows, was marked by dirty politics (albeit precious little intimidation or violence), inadequate financing--and apathy. Although only 28% of those eligible to vote did so, Carey nonetheless achieved, with a 48.5% plurality, the equivalent of a landslide mandate. Since taking control, moreover, he's been making good on promises to cut executive salaries, sell off the IBT's jetliners, increase the organizing budget, and otherwise get his union back into labor's mainstream. As Crowe suggests, this may be the first book about the Teamsters to feature a happy ending. More to the point, though, it's a consistently absorbing and instructive piece of work with potentially wide appeal. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 12th, 1993
ISBN: 0-684-19373-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993