Roy Lee Williams was an American labor leader who was president of the Teamsters from May 15, 1981, to April 14, 1983. Take a look below for 23 more interesting and strange facts about Roy Lee Williams.
1. Born in Ottumwa, Iowa, Williams was one of 12 children in a very poor family.
2. He grew up in the Ozark Mountains in southwestern Missouri.
3. He got work as a truck driver in 1935.
4. Williams served in the United States Army in World War II and personally took 41 German soldiers prisoner, earning him the Silver Star.
5. After the war, Williams returned to trucking. He was elected business agent of the union’s Wichita, Kansas, local in 1948.
6. He was later elected president of Joint Council 56 and president of Teamsters Local 41 in Kansas City, Missouri. He married and had two daughters.
7. In 1955, Williams was elected a trustee of the Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund, one of the union’s largest and most important pension funds.
8. He later testified in federal court hat leaders of organized crime paid him $1,500 per month in order to funnel $87.75 million in loans from the pension fund to construction projects run by the mob.
9. During this period, Williams formed a close working relationship with Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa.
10. Williams quickly rose to power in the post-Hoffa Teamsters by associating himself with new president Frank Fitzsimmons. In 1967, Williams was appointed spokesman for the union’s national surface transportation negotiating committee by Fitzsimmons.
11. In 1971, was Williams elected a vice president of the international union.
12. In 1976, Fitzsimmons appointed Williams to be director of the Central Conference of Teamsters, a regional council which controlled union locals in 14 Midwestern states.
13. In 1977, Williams was forced to resign from the Central State Pension Fund after the United States Department of Labor sued Williams and four others for violating their fiduciary duty.
14. Fitzsimmons died on May 7, 1981. First vice president George Mock was named interim president, but Mock’s age militated against him assuming the presidency at the upcoming membership convention.
15. On May 15, Mock stepped down and Williams was named interim president by the Teamsters executive board. He won the election at the union’s convention in early June of that year.
16. Williams came under immediate suspicion for involvement with organized crime, particularly Kansas City Crime Boss Nicholas Civella.
17. On May 11, 1981, testimony before a subcommittee of the United States Senate indicated that Williams was heavily involved with the Mafia. Williams was indicted on May 22.
18. During his short tenure as president, Williams was forced to reopen the national trucking agreement in September, 1981, and accept a two-year wage freeze, which the union ratified in March, 1982.
19. After a two-month trial during which extensive wiretapping evidence was heard, Williams and four others were convicted on December 15, 1982, for conspiring to bribe Nevada Senator Howard Cannon to defeat a trucking industry deregulation bill, the Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform and Modernization Act of 1980.
20. His continuing testimony delayed his prison term.
21. Williams finally entered a federal medical prison on August 20, 1985. He continued to testify in a large number of cases.
22. In August, 1988, Williams was granted parole due to bad health and for having turned state’s evidence in federal prosecutions in a number of other criminal cases. He was released from the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, in September, 1988. His parole was conditioned on his continuing cooperation with federal authorities.
23. He died on April 28, 1989, at his farm in Leeton, Missouri, from cardiac disease and emphysema.