The Arsenal of Marxism


Ron Carey’s Death and Legacy

By Brian Schwartz

Ron Carey, a heroic former president of the Teamsters union, passed away at age 72 on Thursday, December 11, 2008 from lung cancer. Ten thousand Teamsters union workers owe Ron Carey their undying gratitude for leading the 1997 UPS (United Parcel Service) strike that secured these workers their full-time positions and the higher hourly wage of full-timers.

Tragically, the U.S. Justice Department dug for dirt on Carey, trumping up a bunch of phony charges that Carey couldn’t shake until October 2001. Even when he was exonerated of the charges, Federal Overseers—a kangaroo court composed of top corporation lawyers appointed by Democratic Party President Clinton—maintained his ban from the Teamsters union.

Federal Officials overseeing the union accused Carey of siphoning union funds into the accounts of political consultants who were running his 1996 re-election campaign. In a decade lacking working class militancy, the U.S. Government was able to exact their revenge against Carey for leading over 400,000 Teamsters in a victorious national strike against United Parcel Service in 1997 immediately after his reelection.

It is important for the U.S. working class to reject charges made against their leaders by the Federal Government. The Federal Government has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of the union. Only the workers themselves have the right to control the internal affairs of their union—and by any means necessary.

John L. Lewis upbraided the labor bureaucrats for knuckling under Taft-Hartley and the Loyalty Pledges. Lewis astutely commented that as union leaders, they could never account for their expenditures enough to stave off prosecution. Lewis wasn’t saying that as leaders, they were mishandling finances. What he meant was that unions are institutions so hated by the U.S. Government that even if they made a clean accounting of their finances, they would be framed for a discrepancy.

Carey was cut from the mold of the tens-of-thousands of rank-and-file rebel leaders that lead the great class-struggle battles of labor history—most of whom were well known and highly respected by their coworkers who chose them because they believed that nothing is too-good for the working class.