Union critics elected as leaders of Teamsters

United Transportation Union Local 614 members voted overwhelmingly for Sean O’Brien, a union critic of the Teamsters, as their new president.

Mr. O’Brien defeated the Vice President, Chris Ferguson, and Don Gallagher, a regional vice president, and he needs just one of two votes left in an election of the Teamsters to clinch the position, since Councilman John Gallina did not participate in the vote.

In another result that could complicate matters, Mr. Ferguson walked out on a grievance involving the union, saying that he was using one million dollars of his own money to defend him from the board. Mr. Ferguson’s attorney, Mark Small, said that Mr. Ferguson had paid $25,000 for the grievance to be approved by the Teamsters attorney general, the attorney general’s office.

Mr. O’Brien is a road truck driver who said during the campaign that the debt crisis the Teamsters government is facing is the result of “political corruption.” His support comes mainly from the Teamsters union’s right-wing elements.

A 5-3 vote in 2017 stripped Mr. O’Brien of his position as manager of an airport near Jackson, Mississippi. He was accused of allegedly obstructing a local union investigation. He filed a lawsuit against the Teamsters, which accuses the national executive board of calling in the police.

Mr. O’Brien’s election could send a ripple through the labor movement. If the Teamsters roll back their current mediation policies, which have proven successful, those policies could be undermined at the same time the national union is trying to rebuild itself.

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