Interviewed by Rod Mickleburgh
Diana Kilmury was born in Montreal and moved to Vancouver in 1954 when she was about eight years old. She married and dropped out of school when she was 16. By the time she was 19, she was divorced and needed work to support her children. She started working as a driver for a small trucking company. Within a few years she enrolled in Malaspina College and became the first woman in British Columbia to receive a heavy equipment operator certificate. Upon graduating she was hired by a union contractor working on the Upper Levels highway and became a member of Teamsters Local 213. In 1977, she was dispatched to the Site One hydroelectric project in Northern B.C. where she was the only woman in a workforce of 2,500. She became active in the reform movement after newly elected business agent Jack Vlahovic was unjustly fired. In 1978, she and a young son were severely injured in a vehicle accident. Diana was unable to work for three years due to her injuries. During this time, she continued to work to reform the union as an activist and leader in the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). As a result, the union establishment denied her long-term disability benefits. At the 1981 IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters) Convention Diana won international attention for her speech challenging the corrupt union leadership. In 1989, after the U.S. Department of Justice brought racketeering charges against the IBT leadership, the TDU was successful in its advocacy for one vote for each member of the IBT in supervised elections. For more than two years, Diana travelled on behalf of the TDU in Canada and the U.S. visiting Teamster locals to encourage members to vote in the 1991 government supervised elections. The reform movement was successful in those elections, which included electing Diana as the first international vice-president of the IBT, the first woman to hold that office. In 1996, Diana’s story was told in the TV movie, Mother Trucker: The Diana Kilmury Story.
Keywords: Teamsters Union, Local 213; Teamsters Union, Local 155; Jack Vlahovic; Al Medley; Ed Lawson; Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU); Ron Carey; U.S. Labor-Management Disclosure Act, 1959; Landrum-Griffin Act; Anthony Provenzano (Tony Pro); Salvatore Provenzano (Sammy Pro); Genovese crime family; George Fennell; Pete Camarata; Ken Paff; RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, 1970); Paul Levy and Public Citizen; racketeering; Rudy Giuliani; La Cosa Nostra (LCN); Matty the Horse (Mathew Ianniello); Appalachian mob meeting; Jimmy Hoffa; Jimmy Hoffa Jr.; UPS (United Parcel Service) strikes; LMRDA (Labor-Management and Reporting Disclosure Act); Lazlo Barna; Sturla Gunnarsson; Anne Wheeler; Barbara Williams; Steven Brill