Teamsters Local 731 leader Hancock ousted over spending

In appointing a trustee to manage the local, Teamsters International President Sean O’Brien raised questions about $1.3 million in spending dating from 2018.

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Teamsters Local 731 President Terrence J. Hancock

Teamsters Local 731 President Terrence J. Hancock

Teamsters Local Union No. 731

A prominent Chicago-area Teamsters local has been placed into trusteeship while the international union investigates spending by the local’s longtime boss and other leaders.

Local 731 President Terrence Hancock and other leaders are accused of ringing up $1.3 million in questionable and unauthorized expenses since 2018.

In the action against the Burr Ridge-based local, Teamsters President Sean O’Brien said Hancock was a “primary offender” in an array of violations, including around $53,000 spent for food and liquor at Gibsons and other bars and steakhouses.

A notice announcing the trusteeship said the local’s executive board paid itself more than $300,000 in yearend bonuses and made more than $900,000 in donations and contributions, all without required membership approval, from 2018 to 2022. The local paid for Hancock to get a pedicure and bought a leather Coach bag and “truck and roof spoilers for union vehicles,” O’Brien said.

“Immediate action must be taken to ensure that a decadelong culture of misuse of local union assets and blatant disregard and violation of policies are finally stopped at Local 731,” he said. O’Brien said the union’s constitution empowers him to take over mismanaged locals.

Hancock could not be reached for comment. Local 731 referred inquiries to the Teamsters international headquarters.

Kara Deniz, a spokeswoman for O’Brien, said a hearing on the trusteeship is scheduled for May 11. The hearing is open to Local 731 members.

In the meantime, Hancock and others on the Local 731 board have been removed from office. Deniz said Hancock also has been ousted from the presidency of Teamsters Joint Council 25, which represents the union’s locals in Illinois and Northwest Indiana.

Local 731 has more than 6,000 members, according to federal reports. Many work in construction, laundry services and hauling waste for private contractors.

O’Brien became head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 2022 after being elected on a reform platform. He defeated a candidate aligned with former Teamsters boss James P. Hoffa.

In the April 4 notice of trusteeship, O’Brien said Teamsters member Pat Darrow will temporarily run Local 731. Deniz described Darrow as a longtime Teamsters leader in Ohio.

O’Brien said annual audits have found problems at Local 731 dating from 2012 and that Hancock and others on the board have refused to fix deficiencies or to cooperate with the audit scheduled this year.

Hancock’s position at the top of Joint Council 25 made him the most prominent Chicago Teamsters leader, earning him a seat on the executive board of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

A prior head of Joint Council 25 was John Coli Sr., who last year was sentenced to 19 months in prison for taking $325,000 in illegal cash payments from Cinespace.

In 2022, Hancock was paid about $424,000 between his jobs at Local 731 and Joint Council 25, according to Labor Department records. He has been president of Local 731 since 2005 and first joined the Teamsters in 1979 as a driver on construction jobs.

Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a reform group that backed O’Brien’s election, has said Hancock’s Teamsters-related paychecks in 2021 made him the union’s highest-paid employee.

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