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Corruption scandal hits OC Teamsters local

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The Orange County Register reported today on allegations of financial improprieties and political payback at Teamsters District Council #2. The longtime head of the union, Fred Correll, resigned along with President Ryan Sherard after the International Union took over the local. The back story on this local union and how the alleged corruption of its officials came to light is indicative of the self-dealing and political intrigue at many union locals.

District Council #2 used to be part of the Graphic Communications Union (GCIU), a small international union that represented jobs in the printing industry, such as press operators at newspapers and office products manufacturing. In 2005, GCIU merged into the Teamsters. Correll was strongly in favor of the merger.

Since the 1980s, District Council #2 has been Correll's fiefdom, virtually without challenge, which was quite lucrative for him and his family. His son was also employed as a representative with the union, and between them they collected $313,740 in salary and reimbursed expenses in 2009. In addition, according the Register report, Correll and President Ryan Sherrard spent over $100,000 of union money in recent years on personal items for their own use. In addition, the union spent over $175,000 in a two year period for expensive restaurant meals for officers and staff, and $25,000 on liquor and cigars.

Correll's reign over the local likely would have continued indefinitely if not for a dispute with one of the Vice Presidents, David Grabhorn, who also was counsel for the union. In 2010, some dispute led to Grabhorn and his wife, who was also employed by the union, being forced out of their six figure jobs by Correll. He then sued the couple for alleged overpayments of salary and benefits. Grabhorn counter-sued and exacted revenge by informing the Teamsters International Union of the improper use of union funds by Correll and Sherrard. Once the International reviewed the books, the local was placed in trusteeship and charges were brought against both men, who resigned prior to the union hearing on the matter.

It is unclear whether either former union official will face criminal charges based on the alleged misconduct.

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