Teamsters Mourn the Loss of Union Leaders
Teamsters throughout the country are mourning the loss of two union leaders: Wallace Clements and Ben Leal. Both served in important positions at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the local level.
Clements, a longtime Teamster leader, passed away on January 19, 2019 at the age of 91. He was born September 21, 1927 in Soddy, Tenn. and served in the U.S. Navy during World War 2. He moved to Chattanooga in 1954 to work at Dixie Ohio Express as a truck mechanic.
He later went to work for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, serving as the Director of DRIVE from 1983 to 1995. In this position, he was on a first-name basis with members of congress, presidents and other elected officials.
He was proud to help those get elected who would best represent union interests. He had a great passion for politics and was once a delegate for Tennessee to the presidential convention.
He also served the union as Director of Retiree Affairs from 1999 to 2001.
“Wallace Clements was a proud union man and a tenacious fighter for workers,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “His dedicated service and exemplary leadership will be missed.”
He is survived by a son, Mark Edward Clements and wife Jaye, daughter Lana Joyce Rossy and husband Jeff, daughter Lisa Ann Franklin and husband Bobby. He is also survived by nine grandchildren and nine greatgrandchildren.
Leal, the former Secretary-Treasurer of Local 856, passed away on Feb. 8, 2019. Leal began his career in the union in 1956 and served as the principal officer of Local 856 from 1982 through 1993.
“Brother Leal was a strong, committed and effective Teamster leader,” Hoffa said. “He grew the ranks of our union, bringing more workers the benefits of Teamster representation. He will be sorely missed by all Teamsters.”
Leal served as a Trustee on the Teamsters General Executive Board from 1986 to 1997 and was also a Trustee on the Executive Board of Joint Council 7.
Leal also served as a Trustee on the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Board for almost 30 years and was the Chairman of the Western Conference of Teamsters’ Professional, Public, Medical, Communication, and Clerical Division.