Teamsters weigh allegations against 2 Twin Cities leaders

  • Article by: MIKE HUGHLETT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2013 - 9:13 PM

Two top officers of Local 120 accused of financial misconduct.

The Teamsters held a daylong hearing Thursday for two top Twin Cities union leaders accused of corruption, but a decision on the case could be weeks away.

Brad Slawson Sr. and Brad Slawson Jr., the top two officers of Teamsters Local 120, are facing union charges of embezzlement and other financial misconduct. The charges stem from an investigation into Local 120 by the Teamsters Independent Review Board, which is commissioned — partly by the U.S. Justice Department — to root out corruption in the union.

The Slawsons have said they are targets of a “witch hunt” by the union, instigated after they ceased supporting James P. Hoffa, the Teamsters’ top leader, in 2010. They have been on unpaid leave since the Teamsters put Local 120 into emergency trusteeship in November.

The charges against the Slawsons were heard Thursday at Local 120’s Blaine union hall by a three-member panel of Teamsters officials from outside of Minnesota.

Both sides made their cases, and Slawson Sr. testified for about three hours in the afternoon, said Bret Caldwell, a Teamsters spokesman. The meeting, which continued into the evening, was open to Local 120 members only.

Outside the union hall during a lunch break, opinions varied. One Local 120 member called the case against the Slawsons “pretty much black and white,” while another said “they’re tearing up this local because [the Slawsons] ran against Hoffa.” Neither member, both truck drivers, would give their names.

Local 120 is one of the largest Minnesota-based Teamster locals, with 11,661 members in five states, many of them truck drivers.

The Teamsters panel has up to 60 days to write a decision based on Thursday’s ­hearing. However, it’s hoped that a ­decision will be reached within a few weeks, Caldwell said.

The Slawsons could face lifetime banishment from the Teamsters and be forced to repay tens of thousands of dollars, the union has said.

The panel’s ruling will be forwarded to Hoffa, who will then make a decision on the Slawsons’ fates. Hoffa’s decision itself will be reviewed by the Teamsters Independent Review Board, which grew out of a 1989 consent decree the Teamsters signed with the Justice Department to avoid ­racketeering charges.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

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