Senate Labor Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) charged yesterday that Teamsters union President Roy Lee Williams has brought "disgrace and shame" on the labor movement and called for his immediate resignation.
Hatch said Williams was making more than $700,000 a year in salary and expenses at the time of his conviction in December for conspiring to bribe former senator Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.) and 10 related federal crimes. No bribe occurred.
Williams, 68, was given a temporary sentence of 55 years in prison last week while he undergoes medical tests to determine whether he can be cared for properly in federal custody. Williams, who suffers from emphysema, has been ordered to surrender by April 15.
In a Senate floor speech, Hatch said Williams should step down voluntarily or be forced to do so by the union's general executive board at its next meeting April 19. Hatch added that such a step would be "a radical departure from past practice" for the union.
Hatch contended that when Williams lost his case in federal court in Chicago "he also lost his presumption of innocence."
Legislation requiring union officials to step down in such a situation has twice passed the Senate, but was bottled up last year in a House Labor subcommittee. Hatch said he had no idea when, if ever, the bill would become law.
Williams, the third Teamsters president convicted of a federal crime in the last 25 years, has continued to claim his innocence, and has vowed to pursue his case in appellate courts "in every way I can." Under present law, he would have to resign only after appeals are exhausted.
A Teamsters spokesman said "we're not going to have any comment" on Hatch's remarks.