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Ex-Teamsters Leader McCarthy Dies

November 20, 1998

ARLINGTON, Mass. (AP) _ William J. McCarthy, national president of the Teamsters during the union’s battle with the federal government over racketeering allegations in the late 1980s, has died. He was 79.

McCarthy, the last of the Teamster leaders chosen without a vote of union members, died Thursday at Symmes Hospital.

He became president of the union’s 7,000-member Local 25 in Boston in 1955 and served in that post for 35 years. He was named a vice president of the national Teamsters Union in 1969 and president of the national union in 1988.

McCarthy was accused of seeking Mafia help in an unsuccessful 1984 bid to be appointed to the second highest position in the union. The allegation came from the late Jackie Presser, who was McCarthy’s predecessor and an undercover FBI informant. McCarthy denied the accusations and the case was dropped.

After he became president in 1988, McCarthy agreed to a 1989 pact between Teamsters and the government calling for federal oversight of the group’s activities. The settlement averted a federal racketeering lawsuit, which asserted that Teamster leaders had made a ``devil’s pact″ with the mob, from going to trial.

McCarthy said at the time that he was reluctantly agreeing to the settlement but that what the union really deserved was ``vindication and exoneration″ from the government’s corruption claims.

Citing personal reasons, McCarthy declined to run in the union’s federally supervised 1991 national elections, the first rank-and-file election in the Teamsters’ 90-year history. Some 1.6 million members were eligible to vote. Previous Teamsters presidents were elevated to the top job by a small group of union insiders.

The candidate McCarthy backed lost the election to reform candidate Ron Carey, who later fell victim to his own scandal and was ousted.

McCarthy did try to be re-elected as president of Local 25 in 1991, but he, too, lost to a reform candidate.

He is survived by his wife, Audrey; two daughters; two sons; a brother, and 11 grandchildren.

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