Our Pledge To You


SNEED: New Teamsters union chief Becky Strzechowski gets the boot

New Teamsters President Terrence J. Hancock | Photo from Teamsters Local Union No. 731

In a stunning power play late Sunday afternoon, the newly elected Illinois Teamsters union chief Becky Strzechowski was quietly dumped and replaced.

• To wit: The Teamsters Joint Council 25 executive board changed their mind on Strzechowski and voted 4-1 to appoint Teamster Vice President Terrence J. Hancock, who is head of Teamsters Local 731, to the office of president.

This comes after the Teamsters board voted on July 10 to appoint Strzechowski as successor to outgoing Teamster chief John T. Coli Sr. The selection of Strzechowski, Coli’s hand-picked replacement, came two days after Coli was indicted by the feds.

The change of heart came in light of Coli’s indictment, which stunned the executive board.

Sneed is told Strzechowski isn’t taking it lying down — and is vowing to challenge the vote.

John Coli of Teamsters Joint Council 25 with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, right, and then-Gov. Pat Quinn, left at a news conference in October 2011. | Sun-Times file photo

• Reached at home, Hancock told Sneed: “I’m very excited about this change of events at the council and I will work hard to restore integrity and pride to the union.

“We had a special executive board meeting today [Sunday] to address the issues and in my role as vice president of the council [which represents 100,000 members] and I talked about putting the train back on the track. We were stunned by the indictment. Terrible. Terrible.”

Coli, 57, is accused of trying to extort $100,000 from Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, the clout-heavy studio that has gotten millions of dollars in state grants.

As the federal grand jury indictment against him came down on Wednesday, July 12, word of Coli’s retirement from the union also surfaced.

But retirement will not save him from allegations that he forced Cinespace to pay him $25,000 in cash quarterly. Coli faces one count of attempted extortion and five counts of demanding and accepting a prohibited payment as a union official.

The most serious charge, the attempted extortion, carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

While the indictment does not name the film studio, a source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed Cinespace is the business Coli allegedly tried to shake down.