Outgoing Teamsters President William J. McCarthy has fired his executive assistant just days after the assistant announced he is running for the union presidency.
Walter Shea, the union's 11th vice president and executive assistant to Teamsters presidents for more than 20 years, said yesterday he was fired last Friday and told to promptly clear out of the union's Capitol Hill headquarters.
"He told me I was disloyal and he told me to pack up and get out of there that day," Shea said.
Shea, who remains a union vice president, said he is considering a lawsuit against McCarthy, accusing him of violating the federal racketeering statute by interfering in the union's internal political process. "This is unadulterated political retaliation," Shea said.
McCarthy had no comment.
As a candidate for the union presidency, Shea is expected to head a slate backed by the New York, Detroit and Chicago factions of the union, the Teamsters areas cited most frequently by the Justice Department for having ties to organized crime.
The Teamsters are under court order to hold their first-ever direct elections of national officers next year in a complicated, two-step process. The union agreed to the elections to settle a federal racketeering suit that accused the Teamsters of being under the direct influence of organized crime.
Shea is backed by Teamsters Vice President Joseph Trerotola, leader of the union's New York faction. Shea's only announced running mate -- the slate has room for 17 -- is Daniel Ligurotis, a Teamsters vice president from Chicago.
McCarthy announced last month that he will not seek reelection next year. He is backing a slate headed by Teamsters Vice President R.V. Durham of North Carolina. The other major candidate is Ron Carey, president of a New York local, who has the support of the reform group Teamsters for a Democratic Union.