Ron Carey, who served as president of the Teamsters union and led a massive strike against the United Parcel Service in 1997 but was later expelled from the union after members of his campaign were found to have participated in an illegal kickback scandal, died last Thursday in Queens. The Bayside resident was 72.
Carey died of complications from lung cancer at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens in Flushing, according to published reports.
He was born in Long Island City in 1936 to Joseph, a UPS driver, and Loretta Carey and attended St. John’s University in Jamaica on a swimming scholarship.
Carey became a UPS driver and joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union in 1956. Two years later, he was elected shop steward of Long Island City’s Local 804 union and, in 1965, he became its secretary. In 1967, he was elected the union’s president.
Carey ran for president of the Teamsters union in 1991 on an anti−corruption platform and won by a slim margin. Shortly after becoming the union’s leader, he sold the union’s two private jets, eliminated perks such as limousines and ousted more than 70 union leaders who were found to be corrupt or influenced by the mob.
In 1997, Carey led a 15−day walkout against UPS after the union and the postal delivery company failed to negotiate a new contract. The walkout was considered a major success for the labor movement, winning 10,000 new jobs for the union and costing UPS hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 1996, Carey defeated James P. Hoffa, son of late Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, for president. But the election was later overturned after investigators discovered that Carey’s campaign illegally used $750,000 in union funds. A federal union overseer alleged that Carey’s campaign arranged to contribute the money to a liberal public interest organization in exchange for a $100,000 donation to his campaign.
A court−appointed review board did not find that Carey had taken part in the scandal, but he was forced out of office and permanently banned from the union on the grounds that he had not detected or stopped the scheme.
Hoffa ran for president again in 1998 and won.
In 2001, federal prosecutors indicted Carey on charges of perjury and making false statements after he told investigators he was not aware of the contribution scheme. But a federal jury acquitted him of all charges later that year.
On Local 804’s Web site, the union acknowledged Carey’s death.
“Our thoughts are with his family,” a statement by the union read.
Carey is survived by Barbara Carey, his wife of 50 years, as well as their five children and 13 grandchildren.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@time
©2008 Community News Group
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