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Wisconsin State Journal

Jan. 14, 1973

Ossmann Given Potentate’s fez

            Kenneth Ossmann, 52, of 142 Nautilus Dr., was presented with the  potentate’s fez Saturday night at his residence during his installation as Zor Potentate.

            Harvey Cole, president, of the Arab Patrol, presented the fez to Ossmann, who is president of the Yellow Cab Co. Ken Swee, past potentate, was master of ceremonies.

            Ossmann is a former president of the Arab Patrol and a charter member of the Nomads, the Shrines’ cycle corps. He was deputy director general of the Midwest Shrine Assn. summer session held in Madison in 1969.

            A Janesville native, Ossmann attended the University of Wisconsin and graduated in 1942 from the Madison Business College.


Wisconsin State Journal

Feb. 10, 1973

Boy Held, Second Sought in Robbery

            A 15-year-old Madison boy was in Juvenile Detention quarters Friday night while police hunted his 17-year-old friend for a $25 armed holdup of a Yellow Cab Co. drive.

            Eugene Carey, 54, of 117 Walter St., the taxi driver, said he answered a call to E. Sunset Ct. about 9 p.m. Thursday. Two youths, both wearing parka jackets with fur-trimmed hoods covering their faces, held a gun to his head, cut his taxi radio wires, and stole $20 plus his coin-changer containing about $5, Carey reported.

            Police picked up the 15-year-old in the Sunset Ct. area about 12:20 a.m. Friday. They said they know the 17-year-old’s identity but have been unable to locate him.


Wisconsin State Journal

Feb. 17, 1973

Hayes Obtains Taxi Service to Polls

            William Hayes, candidate for alderman from the Sixth Dist., has negotiated with two Madison taxi cab companies to provide free transportation to and from the polls for the city primary Mar. 6.

            Ray Veloff and Donald Olday of the Checker Cab Co. have agreed to provide rides to the polls at no charge, and Ken Osman and Michael Bayles ol the Yellow Cab Co. will provide rides home from the voting areas.

            All those needing rides to or from the polls should call the cab companies on election day.


Wisconsin State Journal

May 19, 1973

Badger Cab Faces Shutdown


Of The State Journal Staff

            The Badger Cab Co. of Madison is facing a cutoff in gasoline supplies July 1, and does not know whether it will be able to keep operating, a state panel investigating fuel shortages was told Friday.

            “As of July 1, I don’t know whether we'll be in business,” Manager Harold Burgdorff told representatives of the Dept. of Agriculture and Public Service Commission.

            MOBIL OIL Co., from which the taxi firm has bought its gasoline for 26 years, has notified Badger Cab that it will be unable to supply any gas after July 1, he said.

            The hearing was the first of six scheduled around the state at the request of Gov. Patrick J. Lucey to investigate the gas shortage. Under state law, the Agriculture Dept. may issue rules to control the distribution of gas and oil in emergency situations. One purpose of the hearings is to determine whether such action is needed.

            Burgdorff’s testimony was the most dramatic evidence of the shortage presented at the hearing. That of eight other witnesses involved general descriptions of the shortage and varying opinions about its cause.

            BURGDORFF SAID his company had said it would be willing to accept a smaller allocation of gasoline or pay a higher price, but that Mobil was still not interested.

            “I'm concerned for the people we serve, our employes, and out investors,”Burgdorff said. The company carries about 600,000 passengers and uses 110,00 gallons of gasoline a year, he said. Another Mobil customer, the Ice Cream Shops, which manufactures ice cream and distributes it on home delivery routes, faces a July 1 cutoff as well, Burgdorff also said.

            BILL CNARE, who operates the business with his father, Harold, later confirmed that and said the company uses about three or four 7,000-gallon loads of gasoline a year, and has bought from Mobil since 1958.

            The firm will have enough gasoline to operate for about three months after July 1 and will seek another supplier, he said. Mobil spokesmen at the firm’s Niles, Ill., office were unavailable for comment Friday.

            Other taxi firms contacted Friday said they have experienced some problems with gasoline supplies, but are not in as serious a spot as Badger Cab Co.

            MANAGER MICHAEL Bayles of Yellow Cab Co. said his firm “has encountered some problems” with gasoline supplies, and have received an allocation of more than 10 per cent below their 1972 purchases so far. It has not meant any reduction in service but could cause cutbacks if not resolved by fall, he said.

            Checker Cab Co. has a contract that runs through November for gasoline, Manager Ray Veloff said, and is guaranteed gasoline at 1972 levels until then.

            Badger Bus Co. reported its supply of diesel fuel was cut 20 per cent from 1972 by the supplier, and that it may have to curtail long-distance charter service.

            THE BUS company has quit selling fuel to other buses passing through Madison, and refers them to truck stops, Maintenance Supervisor George Marinkovich said.

            Madison Metro bus lines has had its supplies cut back, but has been able to find other suppliers at higher prices, Manager Frank Mattone said at Friday’s hearing.

            Statewide, a shortage of 27.5-million gallons of gasoline and 345-million gallons of fuel oil is being predicted this year, Robert P . Felker, managing director of the Wisconsin Petroleum Assn., testified.

            FELKER SAID the figures, based on a survey by the organization of 600 petroleum wholesalers, may be somewhat inflated, but give a reasonably accurate picture.

            He said the average level of gasoline allocations this year is 91.6 per cent of 1972 figures, and fuel oil is at 89.7 percent of last year’s total.

            There are many causes for the crisis, he said, and more than enough blame to go around.

            He suggested use of more coal and nuclear power for electricity production and called on government to set up an Energy Central to get an overall view of the energy crisis and seek solutions.

            GLENN ANDERSON, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives whose members supply half of the fuel used by the state’s farmers, said there is unused capacity in cooperative-owned refineries because they are unable to obtain crude oil from the major oil companies.

            In the Midwest alone there is an unused refining capacity of 300,000 barrels a day, he said, and a Midland Co-op m plant at Gushing, Okla., is operating at only 50 per cent capacity.

            Smaller organizations “are only able to play games,” Anderson said, and cannot deter mine where the product is available or who owns it.


Capital Times

Nov. 1, 1973

Vote Will Climax Cab Union Effort Here


(Of The Capital Times Staff)

            A two-month effort by drivers at the Yellow Cab Co. to win Teamster Union representation in labor negotiations will culminate Friday with a National Labor Relations Bourd-sponsored election.

            Some 95 drivers, mechanics and dispatchers at the cab company will vote on Teamster representation, in the culmination of a heated organizing campaign. The drivers have accused management of attempting to defeat the union by constant reference to the Teamsters’ current internal difficulties, which were outlined in a recent Capital Times series.

            Local 695 of the Teamsters has been embroiled in an internal fight over future leadership, with former secretary-treasurer Al Mueller accusing current Teamster head Donald Eaton of illegal use of union funds.

            The organizing campaign at the cab company started out with drivers complaining about salary arid other issues, but drivers who supported the union were thrown on the defensive when bulletins concerning the Teamster internal fight were passed out by management of the cab firm.

            Management, according to union organizers, passed out four of the anti-Eaton faction’s bulletins, in an attempt to switch the fight from the central issues to that of the Teamsters’ internal problems.

            Kenneth Ossmann, owner of the company, refused to comment on anything remotely eoncorned with the organizing effort, when asked to by The Capital Times, and referred all inquiries to his lawyer, Robert Kilkelly.

            Kilkelly said the company had obtained the bulletins from other Teamster members, not from Mueller as some drivers had insinuated. Kilkelly had previously represented Mueller in a breach-of-contract suit which Mueller filed against Eaton.

            Ossmann also passed out the series of Capital Times stories which detailed the internal fight in the Teamsters.

            “At first he attempted to tell us how well he was treating us and offered to make some changes,” Victor Wightman, one of the drivers organizing the union said of Ossmann.

            “But then all of a sudden he got those bulletins and The Capital Times’ series and all we heard after that was nothing except bad things about the union,” Wightman added.

            Mueller emphatically denied that he had played any part in giving the company's management his bulletins.

            “In fact,” he said, “a couple of drivers called me about it and I told them to vote for the union and not worry about our internal differences. The important thing is that those guys get a union.”

            Should the election fail on Friday, the Teamsters would not be eligible to seek another representation election for a year.

            As the drivers see it, the issues are pay, hours, insurance, vacation and holidays. Drivers work strictly on a commission basis, receiving 40 per cent of cab fares as their wages. They estimate tips to be “around 10 per cent of the gross.”

            “In order to make any kind of a living,” Paul Zmudzinski, a driver and union organizer said, “you have to put in at least 10 hours a day and it“s not unusual for some of the family men to drive 12 hours a day six days a week.”

            Health insurance is another key issue. The company, according to the union supporters, pays a maximum of $12 a month per individual toward group health, leaving the remainder to be paid by the drivers.

            Drivers also complain that the system for working out vacation pay is unjust, and that they have no paid holidays, and no sick pay.


Capital Times

Nov. 3, 1973

Yellow Cab Employes Pick Teamsters Union

            The Teamsters Union won Friday's election al the Madison Yellow Cab Company as employes voted 50-30 to join the union.

            The secret ballot was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. There were 86 company cab drivers, dispatchers and mechanics eligible to vote in the election. 

            The employes were not previously affiliated with a union. No other cab companies in the city are unionized.

            Teamster organizer James Marketti said the union would begin preparing for contract negotiations after the ten-day certification period has passed

            Marketti said there was a possibility the company would challenge the outcome of the election, “As far as I’m concerned, nothing happened that would not be upheld.”

            Company owner Kenneth C. Ossmann had “no comment” when asked about the possibility of a challenge. He replied “no comment” to all other questions concerning the election.

            The company’s attorney, H. Robert Kilkelly, said he doubted if anything had been decided yet on challenging the election.

            The takeover Friday of the Teamsters local by the International Teamsters does not affect the outcome of the Yellow Cab election.

            The issues as seen by the cab drivers were pay, hours, insurance, vacations and holidays.

Wisconsin State Journal

Nov. 3, 1973

Yellow Cab. Co. Employes Join Teamsters Union

            Employes of the Madison Yellow Cab Co. voted 50-30 Friday night to join the Teamsters Union.

            The secret ballot was supervised by officials of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). There were 86 company cab drivers, dispatchers, and mechanics eligible to vote in the election.

            The employes were not previously affiliated with a union. Other taxi companies in the city are not unionized, a spokesman said. The new union will open negotiations with the company on a  contract, the spokesman said.


Capital Times

Nov. 5, 1973


            THE ACTION By the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in muscling in on the Madison area Teamster local 695, forcing its executive board to resign and postponing a scheduled union election, makes a mockery out of the tradition of democratic unionism.

            Two factions in the local were conducting a vigorous election campaign for control of the Madison-based local. That heated contest was being submitted to the membership in a December election.

            Now the heavy-handed national officers of the Teamsters, acting in the tradition of Dave Beck, Jimmy Hoffa and Frank Fitzsimmons, have summarily postponed the pending election for at least six months.

            The national officers, sitting down in their fancy offices or in the Florida watering spots, obviously can't trust the rank and file to make their own decisions.

            The national moved in after a series of exclusive in-depth articles appeared in The Capital Times.

            The Capital Times made a thorough investigation of the dissension and controversy in the local’s ranks and published what we found. The local union gave every indication that it was prepared to settle its problems at the ballot box.

            A faction in the Local criticized The Capital Times for publishing a series of articles on the local’s troubles, written by City Editor David Zweifel. It was claimed that the liming of the reports was designed to influence the local's organizing drive at the Madison Yellow Cab company.

            The results are in on the Yellow Cab election and the Local 695 has won the right to represent the taxi firm’s drivers in collective bargaining.

            The results of the election prove that the truth doesn’t hurl a labor organizing drive.

            Local 695 was involved in labor disputes with at least three large Madison firms in the past year. Those disputes were marred by violence, untypical of local labor disputes. The local appeared headed for trouble.

            But the unwise decision of the national office to move in with its heavy hand and take over the local is no way to solve the union’s problems.


Capital Times

Nov. 14, 1973

Hearing set on Taxi Fare Rise


Of The Capital Times Staff

            A public hearing on proposed increases in taxicab rates in Madison has been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec.11, by the City Council.

            About two dozen cab drivers and company representatives showed up for a meeting of the Board of Estimates, the Council’s finance committee, when it considered the matter Tuesday night. The board made no recommendation to the Council but suggested that a hearing be held.

            Yellow Cab and Chcckcr Cab Co., both of which operate meter cabs, are asking city permission for a 13.2 per cent fare increase, or 24 cents for the average trip. The zone-rate companies, Badger Cab and Red Cab, want an 11 per cent hike.

            They say that due to rising costs of gasoline, wages, and car parts and maintenance, they must have the increases to make ends meet. Otherwise, said a Badger spokesman, they will suffer “very substantial losses.”

            While petitions were presented with signatures of Checker and Badgers drivers supporting the fare boost, a spokesman for Yellow Cab employes, who recently voted to join the Teamsters, asked for a delay.

            The spokesman said he and the other Yellowdrivers have questions about possible management of the company but have not been able to examine the firm’s financial records to check out their concerns.

            (City Attorney Edwin Conrad later told the Council that the cab companies, as public utilities under city regulation, must comply with any City Council request that their records be furnished to the aldermen and the public.)

            The Yellow employes’ spokesman also said that, while current wages are too low, the company would bring in more business if its rates were reduced rather than raised. Since the drivers are paid on a commission basis, this would benefit them, he said.

            Yellow and Checker are asking that their rates be increased from 50 cents for the first two-ninths mile, to 60 cents for the first one-fifth mile; and from'10 cents for each additional two-ninths mile to 10 cents for each additional one-fifth mile.

            The Badger and Red companies, which according to their representatives have the lowest zone rates in the state, even with the proposed increase, want a rise in the base rate fare from 55 cents to 65 cents.

            All four companies want to hike waiting time rate from $5 to $6 an hour.

            Robert Kilkelly, attorney for Yellow and Badger, said this was the first substantial rate boost sought since 1968. He said the request was the "minimal" increase needed to meet soaring costs.

            “We aren’t making any profits,” said Raymond Veloff, president of Checker. He added, “We're not supposed to be a non-profit organization.”


Capital Times

Nov. 19, 1973

‘Clean Hands’ Issues Handicap Teamsters Local

by DAVE Zweifel

(Capital Times City Editor)

            VIRTUALLY EVERYONE AGREES that thy action by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in its sudden takeover of Madison area Local 695 is deplorable.

            It says something about the principles of the officers of President Nixon’s favorite union — especially when the “coup” takes place less than six weeks before the members are to decide their leadership in a free election.

            James Marketti, the Local 1595 business agent who was fired when the international stepped in, is making an admirable attempt to challenge the union bosses. Fighting the Brotherhood, however, is a next-to-impossible task.

            In his efforts to rally support for his cause, Marketti and some of his less-informed backers have unfortunately glossed over a number of what they prefer to call “phony” charges leveled against the officers of 695.

            It was these charges that led to a deep fissure in the local, spawned an opposition slate to the incumbent leadership in the now unrealized election and eventually led to the takeover by the international.

            THE “STRIKE BENEFIT” issue, which was detailed in a recent four-part series in The Capital Times, is the one that has plagued Marketti and the local’s former leadership the most.

            Marketti calls it a “phony” issue and insists other unions do it all the time. The Daily Cardinal and We the People — a local publication beamed at young union members — editorialize that everything is OK because they've been told all the money went to the strikers.

            The truth of the matter is that the officers of Local 695 permitted out-and-out fakery of strike benefit sheets so they could bilk the international out of more than $14,000.

            Whether that $14,000 went to those who remained on the picket line is irrelevant. As Marketti says, unions all over the country pay their strikers — especially those involved in long and bitter disputes — more than the minimum strike benefit.

            BUT WHAT HE DOESN'T say is that those extra funds arc either paid out of the local’s treasury with the approval of the local’s elected officers or through a special arrangement with the local’s international.

            Extra strike benefits are not distributed to workers by faking signatures on benefit sheets and pretending that more people are on strike than really are.

            What the officers of Local 695 did with the strike benefits was illegal, pure and simple. It was illegal under the Teamsters’ by-laws and it could still very well prove to be illegal under federal and state laws. A U.S. Department of Labor investigation is currently in progress and possible charges are pending.

            In essence, if in fact all the $14,000 went to the men who walked the picket lines, what Local 695 tried to do was pay extra benefits by illegally taking money from the international while at the same time it had a quarter of a million dollars in its own treasury with which it could have paid even higher extra benefits.

            Local 695 officials themselves have already admitted that not all of the $14,000 went to the strikers. Nearly $1,000 went to pay non-worker pickets and another $2,300 mysteriously disappeared with one of the business agents.

            IN ADDITION TO THE strike benefits, some claim another “phony” issue is the one that deals with violence that characterized recent Teamster strikes in Madison.

            At the same press conference in which he announced he was going to challenge the international, Marketti said the people of Madison condemn his strikes but fail to say anything about other “non-violent” union strikes that ended in failure.

            He specifically referred to the Communications Workers strike at Channel 3, the UAW strike at Thorstad Chevrolet and the Bakery Workers strike at Gardners. The implication was they failed because the strikers weren’t violent enough.

            But of the three Local 695 strikes the past year that contained violence — General Beverage, Holmes Tire and Wisconsin Supply — only one ended in a union victory. Holmes and Wisconsin Supply experienced the same fate as Channel 3, Thorstad and Gardners.

            WHETHER VIOLENCE HELPED the Teamsters win one out of three while the other unions lost three out of three is something that could be argued from here to eternity.

            One of the glaring certainties that did emanate from the violence, especially the stinkbombings of the family-owned liquor stores that occurred during the General Beverage strike, is that Local 695 lost much of the respect it had gained in the Madison community over the years. . .

            The local — long before Donald Eaton took over sole control as secretary-treasurer — was always known as one of Madison's more progressive unions.

            To say that the internal fight against Eaton was strictly one of the “conservatives” trying to regain control of Local 695 is a gross distortion of the union’s history in Madison.

            Local 695 — whether it was under the leadership of Eaton or former secretary-treasurer A.E. (Al) Mueller — was always known for its aggressiveness in organizing the unorganized and delving into areas most other unions shunned.

            The local was organizing vegetable canneries and migrant workers in Wisconsin as early as the mid-1950s.

            While Eaton and Marketti organized Yellow Cab drivers during the past few months, Mueller organized Madison’s bus drivers and look them out in a strike to win the drivers unprecedented wage increases.

            Under Eaton’s leadership, Local 695 successfully organized a huge segment of Madison’s wholesale liquor distributorships. Under Mueller, the local jumped into the previously untouched area of law enforcement and won contracts for sheriffs and police departments throughout Southern Wisconsin.

            Mueller was still very much in charge of Local 695 when he and Eaton teamed up to make sure no Teamster driver crossed the picket lines set up by the Teaching Assistants Association in its strike against the University of Wisconsin.

            In fact, during the mid-60s and until Mueller’s retirement in early 1972, Mueller and Eaton’s closeness became one of-the most talked-about subjects in Madison labor circles.

            TO BE SURE, there were well-guarded differences between the two men. Mueller was not one of the original “doves” on Vietnam. For example, Eaton was. Mueller was more of a strict union type or individual. Eaton took a more active role in politics.

            But it is untrue to say, as some have, that Local 695 under Eaton backed George McGovern over Richard Nixon in 1972 in defiance of the international’s stand. Just to set the record straight, the local refused to take a stand on the election, even when asked.

            When Frank E. Fitzsimmons announced the Teamsters were backing Nixon, the Capital Times called Eaton to see if Local 695 was going to thwart the international. Eaton declined to take a stand, even personally.

            This was in stark contrast to the Teamsters’ Harold Gibbons, for example. It was even in stark contrast to the likes of Madison’s Harold (Babe) Rohr who urged Madison labor to back McGovern.

            Now the international has taken over Local 695 and its future hangs in a cloud.

            THESE ARE MANY HYPOTHESES offered why the international came in. Some are willing to accept the international’s reasons that it had to do with the strike funds. Others see it as a move by Fitzsimmons to “punish” the “too liberal” Eaton and the men he hired like Marketti.

            Still others insist it is all the fault of The Capital Times because it published stories about the strike fund fiasco and told about the internal strife that was brewing between old friends Eaton and Mueller.

            Some letter writers and callers insist that if The Capital Times had ignored Local 695’s problems, this never would have happened. That argument is something akin to the arguments used during the late 1960s by those who claimed the demonstrations would end if we’d just quit covering them.

            IT IS HARD TO ACCEPT an argument that “bad publicity” would ever have an effect on a union like the Teamsters. No union in the history of this country, with the possible exception of the United Mineworkers under Tony Boyle, has ever been the object of more bad publicity than the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

            Possibly, whenever the international’s trusteeship of Local 695 cuds, the true story of what was behind it will be discovered.

            But until then, the leadership or Local 695 has to accept the responsibility of its handling of the strike funds and its conduct in creating the controversy in the first place for giving the international the excuse it needed.


Wisconsin State Journal

Dec. 12, 1973

Cab Firms’ Rate Boost Called Dire Necessity

            Four taxicab companies Tuesday night asked the City Council for a rate increase in fares calling them “dire necessity.”

            Asking for a 10-cent increase in base rates, Badger Cab, Yellow Cab, Red Cab, and Checker Taxi representatives came before the council in a public hearing citing inflationary costs for the reason for the raises.

            Atty. Robert Kilkelly, representing Yellow Cab, said that the firm had received a 10 per cent cutback in its gas allotment and so would be forced to suffer reductions in service. Also, indicating increased costs in other areas such as maintenance.

            Kilkelly said “to deny the rate increases the council would be asxking the companies to operate at a deficit.” Harold Burgdorff of Badger Cab said his firm had suffered increases in gasoline prices totaling 10.5 cents per gallon since June.

            Several drivers from Yellow Cab objected to the proposed increases, saying it would cut into their business and would hurt service to elderly persons and people with low incomes.

            One driver said he and his colleagues were receiving “a hick town commission rate and they (the companies) want to ask for big town rates for their customers.”

            The companies also requested an increase in the waiting time rate from $5 to $6 per hour.

            The council, which first received the request in September, voted to refer the matter for one week, asking the firms to give it more data concerning costs.



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