Late Baysider Ron Carey changed workers’ lives: Daughter

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Pamela Carey, daughter of late Teamsters Union President Ron Carey, said she believes her father will be remembered as a pivotal figure in the labor movement after several hundred former and present union members turned out for his Bayside funeral in mid−December.

Ron Carey, who 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 scheme, died on Dec. 11 at age 72 of complications from lung cancer at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens.

Pamela Carey, who lives in Bayside, said numerous union members told the family at the funeral that her father had greatly influenced their lives.

“Throughout the years he was a fighter beyond belief,” she said. “I think he should be honored. There was such an amazing outpouring of union members who attended the funeral, saying he changed their lives. Grown men with tears in their eyes told my mother that if it weren’t for him, they wouldn’t have had a job.”

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 won 10,000 new jobs for the union and cost UPS hundreds of millions of dollars.

But Carey, who joined the Teamsters in 1956 as a driver and was first elected as the union’s president in 1991, was permanently kicked out of the union after investigators discovered that members of his 1996 re−election campaign illegally used $750,000 in union funds.

Carey was forced out of the union on the grounds that he had not detected or stopped the scheme.

In 2001, he was acquitted of perjury and making false statements charges after being indicted by federal prosecutors for telling investigators he was not aware of the illegal funds.

Pamela Carey said her father’s success in the UPS strike probably paved the way for his removal from the union.

“He had the government and politicians asking him to stop the strike, but he soldiered on,” she said. “We were scared because we knew they would come after him and the backlash came right after that strike, which was a touchstone for the labor movement. They told him, ‘If you go through with this strike, you’ll be done.’ They were afraid of him and wanted him out.”

Carey was born in Long Island City in 1936 to Joseph, a UPS driver, and Loretta Carey and attended St. John’s University in Jamaica. Barbara Carey, his wife of 50 years, still lives in Bayside, as does Pamela Carey and her brother, Daniel Carey. Ronald Carey, Pamela’s brother, lives in Long Island, while Sandra Carey, her sister, lives in Middle Village.

Carey, who had 11 grandchildren, moved with his wife from Kew Gardens, where he raised his children, to Bayside 14 years ago.

Carey’s wake was held at Frederick Funeral Home on Northern Boulevard in Bayside Dec. 15 and his funeral service was held at Bayside’s Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Dec. 17.

Pamela Carey said nearly 500 people attended the service, including union members, neighbors from Bayside, family and friends.

“He was a very generous soul and a social man,” Pamela Carey said. “Anybody who met him knew he had charisma.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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