A group of dissident Teamsters will press today for the ouster of the union's president, Frank E. Fitzsimmons, on grounds that he has fostered corruption, nepotism, cronyism and "sweetheart" dealings with truckers, all in violation of union rules.
PROD, the rebel group, released a 94-page "bill of particulars" against the controversial 70-year-old Teamsters boss yesterday as it prepared for closed-door hearings on the charges today by an official Teamsters panel.
The panel was appointed by the Teamsters' General Executive Board and is considered unlikely to accede to PROD's demand that Fitzsimmons be ousted from the $155,000-a-year presidency of the nation's largest labor union, a post he has held since Jimmy Hoffa went to jail in 1967.
But the union's agreement to hear the charges, which were filed last year by several rank-and-file Teamsters, was considered something of a victory for PROD, a Washington-based group that was formed in 1971 to combat alleged abuses within the union.
Under Fitzsimmons' leadership the union has become "riddled with corruption," the dissidents charged. "It is being operated primarily for the political and financial benefit of its top officials and business concern in which they hold various interests . . . Mr. Fitzsimmons has brought disgrace to the union and its 2 million members and has undermined its political integrity," they said.
The complaint alleges that Fitzsimmons appointed or arranged the appointment of a number of disreputable individuals, many of whom are widely reported to have Mafia connections," and went on to name a number of union officials.
It also accused him of encouraging a "pattern of sweetheart" contracts for the benefit of union officials, authorizing overpayments and plush fringe benefits to favored allies within the union and sanctioning widespread nepotism among top union officials.
At least $1 million was paid to relatives of executive board members in 1976, the complaint said, including Fitzsimmons' sons Donald and Richard. It also counted 19 top union officials who received salaries in excess of $100,000 by holding multiple titles - as many as seven in the case of Ohio Teamster leaders William Presser and his son Jackie.
Among other examples the complaint cites the case of one Teamster official who was given a condominium apartment in Florida as a going-away present, and the case of Local 959 in Alaska, which holds $2,400 worth of season tickets to Los Angeles Dodgers home games. "A lifestyle fit only for corporate kings is totally inimical to a union officer's ability to perceive the needs of his working-class members," the dissidents said.