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July 15, 1988 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-07-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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1.11

Presser Continued
Family Labor Tradition

STAFF REPORT

L

ong before Jackie
Presser had even heard
of trade unions, his
Jewish immigrant grand-
parents were fighting for the
rights of workers as they
marched in picket lines in
New York's garment district.
His father carried on the
tradition, rising through the
ranks of organized labor to
become a nationally recogniz-
ed union leader and a protege
of former Teamsters leader
Jimmy Hoffa.
But it was in Presser's
career that his family's long-
standing devotion to the
workers of America reached
its pinnacle. From 1983 until
his death at age 61 last Satur-
day, Presser served as head of
the 1.6 million member
Teamsters Union.
Although his first love was
the labor movement, Presser
was a strong advocate for the
Teamster tradition of suppor-
ting the State of Israel Bonds.
The Teamsters are one of the
major purchasers and major
holders in Israel Bonds.
Born in Cleveland, Presser
dropped out of school in the
eighth grade and joined the
Navy during World War II.
When he returned home, he
was named staff member of
Local 10 of the Hotel and
Restaurant Employees Union
— his first union
appointment.
Presser moved up through
the union ranks — despite be-
ing ousted by one union and
defaulting on a union loan —
until he joined the top ranks
of the Teamsters in 1976.
Labeled an image-conscious
leader, Presser dedicated
himself to promoting the
Teamsters as a respectable,
responsible organization and
increasing its power. Last
year, he won a major victory
when the Teamsters were ac-
cepted back into the fold of
the AFL-CIO. Alleging cor-
ruption, the AFL-CIO had
ousted the Teamsters in the
1950s.
Presser, reportedly the
highest-paid head of any
union, once said, "I'm a
millionaire. So what? I can't
be induced with bribes under
the table. I can make a
million through the union."
Yet he was plagued
thoughout his career by ac-
cusations of embezzlement
and of Mafia control of his
union.
Even on the day he was
taken to a Cleveland hospital
after suffering a heart attack,

just weeks before his death,
Presser was hit with govern-
ment charges of ties with
organized crime.
Presser was buried in
Cleveland on Tuesday. He is
survived by his wife, Cynthia;
his mother, Faye; a son, Gary,
and a daughter, Bari Lynn.

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Mazon Helps
AIDS Victims

Wellness House, a Detroit
residential home for AIDS
victims, received a $7,500
grant this week from Mazon,
a private non-profit Jewish
organization set up to provide
assistance in the fight
against hunger.
The check was presented by
Rabbi Lane Steinger of 'Tem-
ple Emanu-El and Rabbi A.
Irving Schnipper of Con-
gregation Beth Abraham
Hillel Moses to 'Ted Duncan,
executive director of Wellness
House.
The grant is to provide
nutritional supplements to
both Wellness House
residents and other people
suffering from AIDS.
Wellness House applied for
the Mazon grant at the sug-
gestion and guidance of 'Tem-
ple Emanu-El's Social Action
Committee. The committee
coordinates the temple's
AIDS project which has in-
cluded an educational pro-
gram at a Friday night Sab-
bath service, a program for
the temple's school children,
and regular donations of food
for Wellness House.

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Israel Hosts
Music Festival

Jerusalem (JTA) — Israel's
first Third World music
festival drew some 5,000 spec-
tators to its opening in
Eshkol Park near Ofakim in
the Negev. The performers,
from Britain, France, Africa,
South America, the West In-
dies and the United States,
had the audience literally
jumping as they sang along
and danced into the early
hours of the morning last
week.
Among the favorites were
the Ibrekunda Brothers from
Senegal; Ziggy Marley, son of
the late Reggae king Bob
Marley, of Jamaica; and musi-
cians from Martinique in the
French West Indies and from
France.
The festival was part of
Israel's 40th anniversary
celebrations.

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

15

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