The History of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
August 1, 2012
The history of the International Brotherhood of Teamster’s is one of defiance, brotherhood, and a “go it alone attitude.” The Teamsters have always been a rough and tumble union filled with an independent spirit. Since the 1930s until the 1980’s the Teamsters were filled with a gangster element due to the employers in the 1930’s hiring thugs and gangsters to break union picket lines. In return the union hired these elements to even things out. Though once you let the devil in your corner it is hard to get him out. It wasn’t until the 1989 Civil RICO suit were the gangsters in a short term in masses driven out of the Teamsters union. In the process many of the people associated with the gangsters had their constitutional rights violated due to just association with the elements of La Costa. Nostra The government for 23 years has been basically supervising and running the day to day operations of the International Brotherhood of Teamster’s. If this does not smack of totalitarianism then I don’t know what does! The Teamsters were victims of gangster’s in the 1930’s because they let them into the union, and they wouldn’t leave. Now the Teamster’s 80 years later are victims of the US government for letting them into the union, and they won’t leave. The gangsters stole the pensionmoney but provided a service in the time when the union needed assistance. The government is soaking the union daily in high wages for monitors appointed by the government and conducting expensive elections, that the union members have to pay for in return. The government has found a cash cow that they are squeezing dry, just like the gangsters did in the past; though the government has provided no service like the gangsters of La Costa Nostra did in the past. There has just been a substitution of gangsters, one with a badge with unlimited legal authority verse the other without a badge, more prone to violence to get their way. Sit back relax and enjoy as the history of the Teamsters unfolds before your eyes.
The Early Years
The International Brotherhood of Teamster’s was established in 1903 with it’s headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. The first president was Cornelius P. Shea and he was president until 1907.
The Chicago Teamster began a strike in April of 1905 inorder to help the United Garment Workers Union, who were striking against Montgomery Wards. The Teamster’s decided to honor the picket line of the Garment Workers Union. Then the Employers Association became involved and rallied all the State Street department stores to demand that their drivers make deliveries. As each driver refused to make a delivery he was laid off and replaced by drivers from the association (Witwer, 28).
Mayor Dunne of Chicago was elected mayor with union
In the months of April and May the strike escalated daily and the Chicago police force was using approximately 75% of their police just for strike related activities. When the strike expanded in May the mayor recruited 208 new policemen. This strike ended on July 21, 1905 in a draw, even though many drivers were not rehired. During the duration of the strike 21 people were killed and 416 were injured (Witwer ,36).There was wide spread support in the community for the Teamster’s but the Teamsters learned a valuable lesson from this strike, and that was to be careful when they decided whom to help out, since the Garment Workers called off their strike in the first 2 weeks. The strike then became a battle of wills between the Teamster’s and the Employer’s Association.
Daniel Tobin became the president of the Teamster’s from 1907 when the Teamster membership was less than 40,000. He was the International Brotherhood of Teamster President until 1952. In 1921 the Teamster’s had 83,000 members, by 1936 a 170,000 members, by 1942 the membership climber to 590,000, and by 1952 the membership increased to 1,120,000. (James, 14).
On February 7, 1934 Teamster’s Local 574 (Chartered in 1915) of Minneapolis struck the coal industry. There were 600 workers who filled the picket lines along with cruising pickets that were spread across the city ( Rebellion, Dobbs, 21). On February 9, 1934 a proposal to end the strike was introduced, that would take the form of a Labor Board order. The employers agreed to recognize Local 574 pending the outcome of a election for bargaining representative, which was to be handled by the Labor Board.. If the union won the election it was reported the employers would negotiate a wage settlement with Local 574. The union went back to work the next day on the promise of a proposed settlement (Rebellion, Dobbs, 23).
Local 574 had a membership of 3,000 in 1934 compared to just 75 the year before (Rebellion, Dobbs, 65). During this time in Minneapolis there were 30,000 jobless workers who were fighting mad.
By May 15, 1934 the union voted to strike based on the employers arrogant refusal to bargain with the union. During a very short time the union membership rose to 6,000 and hundreds of the unemployed volunteered for the picket line and other ways to help out (Rebellion, Dobbs, 74). During the first 2 days of the strike there were only 18 arrests but by the third and fourth day there were 151 arrests. Fines of as much as $50 dollars were levied against the picketers and 17 picketers received workhouse sentences of 10 to 45 days (Rebellion, Dobbs, 77).
On Saturday May 19, 1934 a melee ensued when scabs were used to load trucks at the Bearman Fruit Company. The fight was between the thugs, scabs, and police verse the union and their supporters. The Saturday evening edition of the Minneapolis Journal stated, “ Fierce Rioting broke out Saturday as 425 special officers went into action to break the Truck Drivers strike.” ( Rebellion, Dobbs, 80). On Monday May 21, 1934 a 3 hour battle ensued in which 30 police officers and a number of deputies needed hospitalization. On Tuesday May 22, 1934 a truce was called when the Labor Board came with a proposal to settle the strike.
Three days of hard bargaining ensued in a Labor Board consent order in which 166 employers recognized the union. Also, the employers agreed to the unconditional return of all strikers including those who were alleged to have committed crimes during the strike ( Rebellion, Dobbs, 96).
On Friday May 25th, 1934 a proposed settlement was sent to the union membership. The union members decided to accept the compromise and go back to work, since the union was now recognized as the bargaining agent. The main taxi employer Yellow cab was acting independently of the trucking employers and agreed to a 1 year contract with the union on June 4, 1934 (Rebellion, Dobbs, 97). By the end of May, Local 574 grew to around 7,000 members.
In the middle of June the Citizens Alliance was pressuring employers to discriminate against union members. The companies were cheating the union members on their wage rates and firing them in violation of their seniority. In a short amount of time over 700 grievances developed in the process (Rebellion, Dobbs, 101).
On July 6, 1934 after a labor march and rally 12,000 people packed into the union hall with thousands listening outside. The union speakers stressed how the employers had intentionally broken the May agreement. On July 16, 1934 the union went out on strike to enforce their demands. Governor Olsen then called in the National Guard to preserve law and order, in his terms of the words. On July 20, 1934 all the strikers received letters that they had 3 days to report for work or face replacement concerning their jobs by other workers (Rebellion, Dobbs, 125).
At 2:00 PM on July 20, 1934 at the Slocum-Bergren loading docks, 50 cops on foot patrol arrived along with about 100 more police by car; loaded to the hilt with riot guns and clubs. When the first loaded scab truck moved out the union picket truck began to follow: that is when the police opened fire on the picket truck leaving 2 people laying motionless in the floor of the bullet ridden truck. A total of 67 people were wounded in the gunfire that pursued in which 50 of them were picketers and 17 of them were bystanders. Mostly everyone was shot in the back (Rebellion, Dobbs, 129). That evening the union scheduled a meeting on a open lot to discuss what happened, to a crowd of 15,000 people. Henry B. Ness was the first to die from the shooting incident on July 20, 1934. He was buried on July 24, 2012 and 20,000 people lined up to mourn his death.
On July 26, 2012 the Governor stated that “ a state of insurrection existed” and placed the city under Marshall Law. Approximately 4,000 guardsmen were deployed and the union was forbidden from picketing or even conducting any open air meetings (Rebellion,Dobbs,149).On August 1, 1934 the Governor’s troops invaded the strike headquarters.
On August 21, 1934 a new Federal mediator named P.A. Donoghue was dispatched by President Roosevelt to submit a new proposal to achieve a settlement in the strike. Under a consent order the Labor Board was to conduct a collective bargaining election within 10 days. The election returns made Local 574 the bargaining representative for 61 percent of the employees in the general trucking industry. (Rebellion, Dobbs, 181).
The final wage settlement was a victory for the union. The drivers received a minimum of 52 and a half cents an hour from September 15, 1934 to May 31, 1935. And 55 cents an hour from June 1, 1935 to May 31, 1936. Minimum scales of 42 and a half cents and 45 cents for these same two periods were specified for helpers, platform workers, and inside workers. (Rebellion, Dobbs, 182).
In May 1937 demands were served upon the Regulated Motor Transportation Association which represented the twin city firms engaged in long distance hauling. The association set up a committee with representatives of Local 120 and 544. In early June a contract was signed covering the over the road operations, with the union being the sole bargaining representative of the employees. A vast list of demands were won by the union. A 54 hour week for line drivers, premium pay for overtime, a minimum guarantee of 40 hours, drivers not required to load or unload at terminals, drivers to receive a minimum of 70 cents and hour, seniority rights to prevail in all aspects, drivers not to take out unsound equipment or to violate speed laws, and the union reserved the right to strike over contract grievances (Power, Dobbs, 179).
In Omaha, in defiance of the state anti-picketing law the Teamster’s union went on strike for 2 weeks, and finally on June 16, 1937 the employers gave in and signed a contract. This was the first state victory here.
On March 2, 1938 a Chicago gathering convened with union representatives from 8 states: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. They were meeting to discuss a uniform multi-employer pact that would benefit all the employees in the Mid West.
Holderoft Transportation operating out of Sioux city began firing drivers who joined the union. On March 29, 1938 Local 383 struck the firm. Other IBT locals tied up it’s facilities, and Local 710 barred their company entry into Chicago. After a shutdown of 18 hours the company gave in (Power, Dobbs, 184). After the Holderoft strike the union sent a ultimatum to 1,200 employers over 11 states that they wanted a uniform area contract to be negotiated or else they would strike.
Finally the employers gave in and a 11 state contract was signed to take effect from October 1, 1938 to October 31, 1939. The uniform contract included the states of : Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota (Power, Dobbs, 208).Over 1700 companies signed the agreement and it was ratified on September 7, 1938, when a 175 local unions ratified the contract.
When the contract was up a new two year extension was signed on October 6, 1939 that would last until November 15, 1941. In the first year the drivers would receive a 15 percent raise and in the second year they would receive a 10 percent raise (Power, Dobbs, 239). The new pact covered 2,500 companies and almost 200,000 workers directly or indirectly. In 1933 the IBT had 80,000 members by 1939 they had almost 500,000 (Power, Dobbs, 241).
During the McClellan Committee(Senate Special Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field.) from January 30,1957-March 31, 1959 there was over 1525 witnesses who testified and 343 of them took the 5th amendment. Over 50 volumes of testimony was heard in the hearings which covered 270 days. There were 8,000 subpoenas served for witnesses and documents during the hearings.
Dave Beck was the President of the IBT from 1952 to 1957 and he was investigated by the McClellan Committee. Beck’s net worth had gone from $63,000 in 1943 to more than 1 million by 1954. Between 1949 and 1954 it was alleged that he took approximately $370,000 from the union treasury (Witwer,159). According to Hoffa, Kennedy went on a wild goose chase to get any petty thing on Dave Beck as possible. Dave Beck did not report $1900 on selling a car to giving false information on tax returns that he never signed or saw. Bobby Kennedy blew all this up to make it something bigger than it was (Hoffa,104). Eventually Beck went to prison on June 20, 1962 until December 11, 1964. Beck was pardoned concerning the state felony charge, for the sale of a car that he did not own, in 1965 by Governor Albert Rosellini. He was later pardoned for the federal charge, the false Teamster tax return that he never signed, by President Ford in 1975. Beck lived to a ripe old age of 99 and died on December 26, 1993.
During the McClellan hearings Robert Kennedy claimed that Hoffa and his associates misused 9.5 million from the pension and welfare funds (Kennedy, 161) He also claimed that Johnny Dio brought 40 hoodlums into the Teamster’s union with a combined record of 178 arrests and 77 convictions. Robert Kennedy came up with a list of 106 known gangsters that associated with the Teamsters. Of this list 16 of them never associated with the Teamsters, 9 had been only former members, 8 were officers or employees who were arrested but never convicted of anything, 34 were former officers or members who were no longer associated with the Teamsters, 26 were officers, agents, or employees who were convicted before being Teamsters, some as far back as 20 years. Of the 1.7 million members only 13 had records for things like disorderedly conduct or traffic violations (Hoffa,106). During the McClellan Committee Kennedy had placed Hoffa under 24 hour FBI surveillance. John Cye Cheasty was a spy in the pay of Kennedy claims Hoffa. (Hoffa,107).
John Cye Cheasty and Robert Kennedy tried to frame Hoffa. Chesty came to Robert Kennedy and claimed that Hoffa gave him a $1,000 to get a job on the McClellan Committee to spy on the activities of the committee for the Teamsters. On March 13, 1957 Hoffa was arrested on bribery and conspiracy charges. On July 19, 1957 the jury found Hoffa not guilty on all the charges. On September 24, 1957- James Hoffa was charged by the McClellan Committee with 33 counts of “improper activities, which all were later dropped and still Robert Kennedy would not quit in his pursuit of Hoffa (Hoffa, 147).
The Hoffa Years
In 1935 Jimmy Hoffa was promoted to a business agent of Teamster’s Local 299 in Detroit. In the first year alone he claims he was beaten up by police and strike breakers at least 2 dozen times. Hoffa was hit with nightclubs, clubs, and brass knuckles numerous times and he had his head busted open at least a half dozen times. (Sloane15) Hoffa claims an arrest record as long as his arm for arrests concerning organized labor disputes. He claimed one day he was arrested 18 times for picketing. (Sloane16-17).
In 1940 Hoffa was convicted and fined $500 when he pleaded nolo contendere to a Federal charge of conspiracy to monopolize the waste paper trades in cooperation with a few unionized companies. In 1946 Hoffa was convicted of a misdemeanor, given a 2 year suspended sentence, fined $500, and ordered to return $7,500 that he had already collected from small merchants by having them purchase permits from the union to operate their own trucks (James, 84).
On October 4, 1957 Hoffa was elected President of the IBT with 72% of the vote. In 10 years running the IBT, Hoffa increased the membership 150 percent from 800,000 Teamsters to 2 million. The Local that Jimmy Hoffa ran in Detroit was Local 299. The membership in local 299 in 1933 was 400 by 1961 it was 13,600 (James, 82). Hoffa when he first became President of the IBT made $50,000 a year plus unlimited expenses. Plus another $15,000 a year for running Local 299 while he was President of the International (Sloane, 137).
Hoffa was opposed to arbitration and favored the open- end grievance procedure that allowed the union the ability to strike without exposure to Section 301 of the Taft Hartley Act that would open up the union to damage suits (James, 167).
In December of 1957 Hoffa was brought to trial on a ridiculous wire tap charge brought by a New York Grand jury which ended in a hung jury. After the initial hung jury he went to court in a second trial on May of 1958 and was then acquitted of theses charges on June 23, 1958. Kennedy’s investigators had tapped Hoffa’s phones and bugged his office claiming that Hoffa had tapped the phones of some Teamster officials in Detroit.
On May 20, 1958 Hoffa went on trial for wiretap charges, since the first trial ended in a mistrial during the previous December. He was acquitted on June 23, 1958.
Robert Kennedy would not quit and on May 18 of 1962 had Hoffa indicted for accepting an illegal payment from a Michigan employer in violation of the Taft Hartley Act. It was alleged that Hoffa was paid to settle a strike. A Detroit grand jury had previously investigated these ludicrous charges and found nothing wrong. The trial ended December 23 in a mistrial. The Justice Department did not pursue the case for a second trial on the previous charge but they indicted Hoffa for jury tampering concerning the previous charge in the case on May 9, 1963 (AP). Hoffa was only facing a misdemeanor in the case, it was not logical to commit a felony of jury tampering. Hoffa won a change of venue and the trial was moved from Nashville to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
On January 15, 1964 Hoffa negotiated the first National Master Freight Agreement in Chicago. This contract provided solid, standardized protection and benefits to approximately 450, 000 over-the-road and local cartage drivers across the country.
Not only was this an amazing feat in itself but Hoffa was under the constant pressure of the legal system on a daily basis.
In Chattanooga everything was bugged and tapped concerning Hoffa’s conference room where his legal team met during the trial (Hoffa, 168). All the bugs and taps were later discovered by Hoffa’s people (Hoffa, 169-171). The railroad job was in and Hoffa was convicted on March 4, 1964 of jury tampering. On March 10, 1964 two days before sentencing Hoffa and his co-defendants filed a motion for a new trial. They charged Judge Wilson with 94 counts of trial error and alleged that jurors had been intoxicated during the trial (Sheridan,354).On March 12, 1964 Judge Wilson sentenced Hoffa to 8 years in prison and fined him $10,000.
On June 4, 1963 Hoffa was indicted in Chicago by a Federal Grand Jury with 7 other men on a 28 count indictment claiming that Hoffa and the men had obtained 14 loans for the amount of 20 million by fraud from the Teamster Central States, Southeast, and Southwest Areas Pension Fund. Hoffa was facing 140 years in jail and $37,000 in fines.
It was further stated in the indictment that these men diverted $100,000 of the loans to personal use and benefit to themselves. The Grand Jury charged Hoffa with violating his duty as a trustee of the fund by making false and misleading statements to the other trustees and by using his influence to obtain approval of the loans (Sheridan, 281).
Hoffa stated concerning the indictment that it took them 3 years to bring the indictment and that he was the only trustee of the 15 other trustees to be indicted when it takes 16 to make a decision (Sheridan, 283). During this case Hoffa filed 40 motions with Judge Leib, appealed 7 to the Court of Appeals, and another 2 to the Supreme Court. On April 27, 1964 Hoffa went on trial with 7 co-defendants in Chicago on charges that they conspired to defraud the Teamster Pension Fund. On July 26, 1964 after 17 and a half hour of deliberation the jury found Hoffa guilty on 4 counts to the above charge of pension money. All the defendants were found guilty in August 1964 of conspiracy, mail, and wire fraud. Hoffa was now twice convicted in 1964 and faced a 13 year aggregate sentence. The government has unlimited resources and when they want to get you they will keep coming and coming and use what ever tactics legal or illegal to get you.
On October 20, 1965 the Department of Labor claimed that after an audit of the IBT records, it was revealed that Hoffa spent $570,396.84 of union funds to defend himself in the Nashville, Chattanooga, and Chicago cases (Sheridan, 391).
On December 12, 1966, the Supreme Court upheld the Chattanooga railroad job of jury tampering based strictly on Edward Grady Partin’s perjured testimony. Partin was acting as a paid Federal informer when he attached himself to Hoffa in Nashville. (Hoffa,178-180). Concerning the jury tampering conviction- Edward Grady Partin made an alleged 31 page recantation statements concerning his former testimony (Sloane,355).
Hoffa offered a $1,000 reward for information concerning the bugs and phone taps placed in his Chattanooga conference room. A man later came forward named Benjamin Nicholas and he claimed that the former head of the Justice Department Walter Sheridan instructed him to slip tiny transmitters under the mattresses of the jurors when they were sequestered in the Reed House. He admitted that he placed 4 micro phone bugs and 6 tapped telephone lines in the rooms of the Hoffa legal team in the Patterson Hotel. Cartha DeLoach, the Assistant Director of the FBI, was quoted by reporters as having stated that a special wiretap unit in the Justice Department had been ordered by Kennedy and established.(Hoffa,179). With all of this new information the Supreme Court still decided on February 1967, that it would not reconsider its former decision.. Only 48 hours later Hoffa was ordered to report to the United States Marshall in Washington , D.C. to start serving his 13 year sentence on March 7, 1967. It took 3 years of appeals before Hoffa actually began serving his sentence from his 1964 convictions.
On January 11, 1971 the US Supreme Court denied Hoffa and his co-defendants petition for the Chicago Pension Fund fraud trial (Sheridan, 488). Hoffa remained President of the IBT until December of 1971 while he was serving time in prison.
On December 23, 1971 Nixon signed an Executive Grant of Clemency for 49 persons including Hoffa. The President commuted Hoffa’s sentence from 13 years to 6 and one half making Hoffa eligible for immediate release. The only problem was that Hoffa was not made aware of the fact that Nixon had made a deal with Fitzsimmons to not allow Hoffa to run for union office until 1980. In March of 1973 parole ended for Hoffa (Sloane,357).
Hoffa was involved in the National Association for Justice after prison which was a prison reform organization. He was instrumental in improving conditions for prisoners across the country and preventing riots by being a negotiator. He refused to accept money for his efforts (Sloane,357).
In 1974 a random poll conducted by the truck drivers magazine, “Overdrive” revealed that 83 % of the respondents would vote for Hoffa as president if given the chance (Sloane,359). Federal Judge John H. Pratt of the U.S. District Court of Washington issued a decision on July 19, 1974 against Hoffa concerning President Nixon commuting Hoffa’s sentence with restrictions, that he could not be involved in union activates until 1980 (Sloane,368-369).
On July 30th 1975 it was alleged that Tony Provenzano the former Teamster vice president from New Jersey was responsible for Hoffa’s murder and disappearance. Hoffa was scheduled to meet Tony Provenzano and Anthony Giacalone for a meeting. Though they never showed up for the meeting at the Machus Red Fox restaurant (Zeller,86) Hoffa was waiting outside a suburban Detroit restaurant when he was ambushed by Salvatore Briguglio and shot 2 times according to witnesses connected with the Mafia. He was then placed in a 55 gallon drum and shipped to an unknown place (Zeller, 87). Briguglio is the alleged hit man in the Jimmy Hoffa murder. In March of 1978 he himself was found murdered execution style with 8 shots to the head.
Presidents Fitzsimons and Williams
Frank Fitzsimmons became President of the IBT in December of 1971 until his death in 1981. The IBT became more corrupt under his leadership and the ties to organized crime deepened with him at the helm. Under Fitzsimmons he began the move toward decentralization of control, where the locals had more power, and this led to more Mafia criminals moving into the Teamsters union (Zeller, 31).
In May of 1981 Roy Williams was indicted on charges of conspiring to bribe a US Senator. Many people believe that Williams was setup by Bill Presser, Jackie Presser, and Frank Fitzsimons. On December 15, 1982 Williams was found guilty of bribery after a 7 week trial. (Zeller,79) President Williams legal expenses were picked up by the Teamster’s union and they totaled $534,467 (Zeller ,93) Roy Williams was elected IBT President on May 15, 1981 and served until April 14, 1983 when he began serving a 10 year sentence in Federal Prison in Springfield, Missouri. He was forced to resign after he and four co-defendants were convicted in December, 1982, of attempting to bribe former U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon of Nevada, to influence trucking deregulation (LA Times). Williams served three years of a 10-year sentence before he was released from federal prison. Williams has always maintained his innocence regarding this case and claimed later in life that La Cosa Nostra ran the Teamster’s union.
The Jackie Presser Years
In the mid 1970’s Jackie Presser held 7 different union Teamster offices with a combined salary of $145,541. In 1976 when Bill Presser stepped down from office his son received 2 more of his father’s positions and an extra position appointed by President Frank Fitzsimmons for a combined annual salary of $270,000 (Zeller,24). As early as 1971 Jackie Presser began his days as a government informant turning in political enemies in order to rise to the top. In 1971 Presser, his father, and Fitzsimons met with Nixon aides and provided them with information on Teamster officials. At the time Jackie Presser was facing criminal embezzlement charges of union funds in Cleveland and the charges were dropped against him (Zeller,25).On the basis of Jackie Presser’s days as an informant approximately 70 people were indicted by the Federal government. (Zeller, 76).
Jackie Pressers FBI file was more than 2,000 pages of facts, hearsay, investigative leads, and plain old bull shit. This was over a 15 year period he was a government informant (Neff ,434).
On April 21, 1983 Jackie Presser became President of the Teamster’s Union with a combined salary for all his union posts totaling $548,000 (Zeller, 95).
In September of 1983 while Presser was negotiating the National Master Freight Agreement, he allowed a two tier system to evolve allowing the pay for new drivers to fall 17 percent below regular drivers. Teamsters for a Democratic Union informed everyone and the membership soundly defeated his negotiated contract( Zeller, 118).
Jackie was so mad that when the Teamster’s for a Democratic Union held their annual convention in Michigan just outside of Detroit, he had a goon squad come in and rough up the members. TDU later identified 20 Teamster officials who were involved in the melee ( Zeller, 119).
It became known in December of 1986 that Presser was an FBI informant and the FBI offered him an opportunity to go into the Witness Protection Program, Presser turned down the offer (Zeller,190).
When the IBT signed the consent decree in 1989 it was Presser who made possible the court appointed investigations that led to 151 Teamsters being charged with union violations, 37 union officials being expelled, 27 union officials being suspended, and 26 mobsters being barred from union activities (Zeller, 335).
Teamsters for a Democratic Union
On June 5, 1976, 35 TDC and UPSurge members from various cities met in Cleveland to form a new group that would unite freight and UPS Teamsters. They called themselves Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). TDU’s goal would be to build a rank-and-file movement to reform the union and fight for strong contracts for the membership.
On Sept. 18, 1976, nearly two hundred Teamsters met at Kent State University in Ohio for TDU’s founding convention. The new organization drew up a ten-point “Rank-and-File Bill of Rights” to be their program. Some of the items in the TDU Bill of Rights included:
direct election officers
majority rule on contract votes
fair grievance procedure with innocent until proven guilty provisions
no multiple salaries for union officials
an end to race and sex discrimination
TDU organized members at UPS, freight, steelhaul and carhaul to push for stronger contracts during negotiations in 1979. That year, some carhaulers and steelhaulers went out on wildcat strikes demanding contract improvements. After a four-week strike, steelhaulers won higher pay, sick days and a fuel allowance. In carhaul, the union imposed a poor agreement on the workers even though the majority of members voted it down.
Deregulation led to cutthroat competition and the growth of new non-union carriers. By 1982, 183 unionized carriers had gone out of business and 30 percent of freight Teamsters were unemployed. The remaining unionized carriers responded by demanding big concessions in areas like wages, productivity, and the flexible workweek.
The IBT supported the employers’ demands. In July 1983, Teamster President Jackie Presser proposed a special freight “relief rider” that would cut wages by up to 35 percent and establish a two-tier wage structure. TDU launched a national campaign to defeat the relief rider and save the National Master Freight Agreement. It worked. The membership rejected the concessionary rider by a vote of 94,086 to 13,082. Business Week called it “A real slap in the face for Jackie Presser.”
Deregulation led to cutthroat competition and the growth of new non-union carriers. By 1982, 183 unionized carriers had gone out of business and 30 percent of freight Teamsters were unemployed. The remaining unionized carriers responded by demanding big concessions in areas like wages, productivity, and the flexible workweek.
The IBT supported the employers’ demands. In July 1983, Teamster President Jackie Presser proposed a special freight “relief rider” that would cut wages by up to 35 percent and establish a two-tier wage structure. TDU launched a national campaign to defeat the relief rider and save the National Master Freight Agreement. It worked. The membership rejected the concessionary rider by a vote of 94,086 to 13,082. Business Week called it “A real slap in the face for Jackie Presser.”
The IBT feared a similar embarrassment on the 1985 UPS contract. So they pulled a fast one according to TDU. A new agreement was secretly negotiated months before the contract expired. Ballots were secretly printed up and mailed to members along with slick promotional material calling it the “Best Contract Ever.” Members had not even known that negotiations were underway! TDU sued the IBT over this quickie vote. The court voided the vote and ruled that members had to be given a meaningful opportunity to debate contract proposals before they were voted on. It was the last quickie vote the IBT would ever pull claims TDU.
Soon afterwards TDU defeated the hated and destructive “two-thirds rule.” In 1987 and 1988, a majority of UPS and freight Teamsters rejected their contracts. But since a two-thirds super-majority was required to reject an agreement, the union declared the contracts approved. TDU and New York Local 804 President Ron Carey challenged the two-thirds rule in court. Under pressure, the IBT General Executive Board eliminated the two-thirds rule. The rank-and-fil won a majority rule on contract votes.
In 1985, TDU launched a National Right to Vote petition to put pressure on the Teamster leadership to hold elections for national officers. Volunteers gathered signatures at worksites across the country. The petition, had tens of thousands of signatures, it was presented to the 1986 Teamster convention. At the convention, TDU delegates supported a resolution for direct election of IBT officials, which was voted down.
New Organizing: When Carey took office, the union’s membership had dropped by 500,000 members in the previous 15 years. The IBT created a real organizing department and a volunteer organizer program. By 1995, the union was growing again. At Overnite, the IBT launched the first organizing drive against a national freight carrier since deregulation and successfully organized some 20 terminals. According to TDU the organizing drive was later defeated when the James P. Hoffa’s administration launched an unsuccessful strike at Overnite in 1999.
Taking on employers: The union slowed the employers’ drive for concessions. The IBT began to involve members in contract campaigns. In the 1992 and 1995 concerning carhaul contracts, the union stopped companies from shifting more work to nonunion subsidiaries. The union also won “innocent until proven guilty” provisions in national contracts — a right that the Hoffa administration later negotiated out of the freight agreement in most areas, claims TDU.
In late 1997, Carey was disqualified from running for office. Hoffa was not disqualified, even though it was ruled that he had taken $167,000 in employer contributions and another $160,000 in union funds for his campaign. Though this is far less than what Carey was alleged to have funneled out and back to the union.
Within a year of taking office, Hoffa added 137 multiple salaries to the IBT payroll. He pulled the plug on big Teamster organizing drives and launched a poorly planned strike at Overnite Transportation that destroyed the union’s successful freight organizing drive there, according to TDU. TDU claims the Teamster’s have loss nearly 100,000 members since Hoffa took office.
In 1982 the Department of Justice Organized Crime Strike Force in Newark, New Jersey brought the first civil RICO suit against a union. They filed a suit against Teamster’s local 560 with 35,000 members. For decades they claimed that Tony Provenzano a capo in the Genovese crime family had run the union. Union members who challenged Tony were threatened, beaten, and even murdered. He gave many sweetheart deals to employers. (Jacobs,19) The Federal Government brought 20 RICO suits against labor unions from 1982 to 2005. (Jacobs,142-145).
June 28, 1988 the Department of Justice filed it’s RICO suit against the Teamsters. The 105 page brief contained allegations of countless murders, shootings, bombings, bribes, and misuses of union funds (Zeller, 249). A 2004 study found that since the signing of the consent degree in 1989, 670 charges have been brought against 570 members and officers of the IBT. Local 813 had 58 members or officers charged. A total of 85 Local Union Presidents had been charged. A total of 201 Teamsters were expelled from the union. A total of 35 locals and 1 joint council were placed under trusteeship. (Jacobs,208).
William McCarthy became President of the IBT in 1988 , when the executive board gave McCarthy a 9 to 8 victory to become the next president of the Teamsters (Neff, 427).
McCarthy, was the last teamsters chief to be picked without a vote by the membership and he was President of the IBT until 1991. In 1989, under McCarthy's leadership, the teamsters agreed to Federal oversight concerning their activities. In return, the Government agreed not to prosecute the teamsters on Federal racketeering charges. McCarthy was president of Local 25, New England's largest teamsters local union, for 35 years before he lost a re-election bid to a reform candidate in 1991 (NY Times).
Since 1967, Ron Carey (winning reelection eight times by wide margins) had been president of IBT Local 804, which represented United Parcel Service (UPS) workers in the NYC metropolitan area. Ron Carey ran Local 804 in New York with a membership in 1976 of 5,500. (Brill ,158). In 1976 Carey received in salary and other reimbursed expenses a total of $34,134 (Brill, 166). In 1968, Carey for the first time in negotiations with UPS, reached an agreement where the drivers were to be paid $3.37 an hour. By 1977, he increased their wages to $7.37 an hour. This was a 119% increase compared to a 72% cost of living increase (Brill, 168).
In the 1974 a strike against UPS lasted 78 days and a close friend of Carey was killed in the dispute (Brill, 180), On November 21, 1974 the strike was settled. UPS won the right to replace full timers with part timers through attrition. In return, the union won the right to slow down the replacement part timers to 180 a year. The union won wage increases on the average of $58 a week, plus a cost of living escalator clause (Brill, 183).
In May 1977, Carey and his people worked out a new contract to take effect on July 1, 1977 after approval by the members. The settlement called for a wage increase of 20 cents and hour retroactive to December 1976. There would also be wage increases of a $1.79 an hour or $71.60 a week across the board. Also a pension of $500 a month for employees with 25 years of service and who had reached the age of 55. Major medical insurance coverage, disability benefits, and allowances for surgical and dental work were raised. Three days of paid leave were added to the maximum 5 weeks of vacation for those with the most seniority. Part timers won pensions and were given the same health coverage as full timers (Brill, 194-195).
In 1991 Ron Carey was swept into office as the President of the IBT with 188,883 votes. In second place was R.V. Durham with 129,538. Walter Shea finished third with 71, 227 votes (Zeller, 334).During Carey’s reign a total of 60 locals were placed in trusteeship for offenses ranging from extortion to racketeering (Zeller, 353).
The Teamsters lost more than 100 million since the time Carey was elected. A total of 58 million lost in 1992 alone. By the end of Carey’s second year in office the net worth of the Teamsters had plummeted from 154 million to less than 14 million and by 5 years of leadership from Carey it dropped to 700,000 (HR). Carey lost 68,000 members in his first 2 years (Zeller, 343). By 1996, 60 million dollars had been spent to clean up the union by the Teamsters (Zeller,355).
The Consent Decree and it’s Effects
The original RICO suit filed by the government against the IBT included 19 Teamster officials as defendants and 26 alleged mobsters as defendants. As part of the settlement the union agreed to allow Federal Judge Edelstein to appoint a two pronged consent decree. An investigations officer (IO) and independent administrator (IA) would investigate, “prosecute,” adjudicate, and sanction IBT members’ violations of the union’s disciplinary rules. An election officer (EO) would supervise nationwide rank-and-file elections for the IBT international officers. These court officers would have authority to hire accountants, consultants, experts, investigators, and other personnel.
According to the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, from 1989 to 1992, the IBT’s international, regional, and local offices spent nearly $10.5 million litigating disagreements with the court-appointed officers (HR).
During the IO/IA phase, Carberry filed embezzlement charges against 115 respondents, virtually all of whom were IBT officers. In just three years, 1989–1992, the IO/IA removed from the IBT more than two hundred officers, including twelve international officers, fifty local-union presidents, twenty-seven vice presidents, and forty-six secretary-treasurers. Indeed, of all the disciplinary charges filed from 1989 until 2011, approximately 25 percent were filed between 1989 and 1992. Twelve LCN members were expelled or resigned, and many LCN associates were expelled for associating with expelled or suspended IBT members. By the end of the IO/IA phase (October 1992), there had been a complete changeover of the GEB. All of the IBT defendants named in the civil RICO case had resigned or been expelled (Jacobs).
July 1989 to September 1992, IA Lacey disciplined thirteen Teamsters, including five local presidents, three vice presidents, and two secretary-treasurers, for being LCN members. Every case resulted in expulsion or resignation from the IBT. IO Carberry brought ten failure-to-cooperate cases from July 1989 to September 1992.
The IA used failure-to-investigate charges to remove from office forty-three IBT officers
During the IO/IA phase of the remediation, IO Carberry charged eight local officers with filing false or misleading LM-2 forms All told, from July 1989 to September 1992, the IA placed or approved trusteeships on nine IBT locals.
The Convention Delegate Elections and the July 1991 Nominating Convention EO Holland called the local-delegate election process “the most arduous component of the Election Officer’s responsibilities.”65 Members of 623 local unions nominated approximately thirty-two hundred delegate candidates and fifteen hundred alternate-delegate candidates. Most delegate and alternate-delegate candidates ran on slates
However, contested elections occurred in fewer than half (49 percent) of the locals, actually a decline in contested elections compared to the most recent IBT local-union officer elections(Jacobs).
Twenty-eight percent (396,172) of eligible Teamsters cast ballots. The outcome differed radically from the outcome at the Orlando convention, where Carey had received 15 percent and Durham 53 percent of delegates’ nominating votes. In the general election, Carey received 188,883 votes (48 percent), Durham 129,538 (33 percent), and Shea 71,227 (19 percent). 11,372 ballots were voided. The cost of supervising and conducting the 1991 rank-and-file election amounted to more than $15 million.
During the Carey years (February 1992–November 1997), the IRB recommended that the IBT charge 214 Teamsters with disciplinary violations. Approximately 20 percent of the respondents were charged with being members of LCN, knowingly associating with LCN members/associates, or refusing to cooperate with an investigation into LCN influence. The other 80 percent were charged with garden-variety union corruption, financial misconduct, breach of fiduciary duties, or failure to cooperate with a non-LCN-related IRB investigation (Jacobs).
Carey raised $1.8 million in campaign contributions to Hoffa $1.3 million in the 1996 election for the President of the IBT.. Carey also received several large contributions from wealthy non-Teamsters. The 1996 election cost the government approximately $17.5 million.
On July 27, 1998, after a four-day hearing, the IRB expelled Carey from the IBT, concluding that he “lied about not knowing that [improper] contributions were made” to his campaign; that he “knew of the proposed contributions and approved them”; and that his claim to have “no memory of whether he did or did not approve any of these expenditures totaling $1,458,000 was less than credible given their size and their relation to the election which Carey believed to be of vital importance.”
In January 2001, a Manhattan federal grand jury indicted Carey on five counts of violating the federal false-statement statute and two counts of violating the federal perjury statute. The indictment alleged that Carey had falsely denied that he and his top advisers and staffers communicated, via telephone and in writing, about monetary contributions from the IBT to certain political organizations, especially Citizen Action. Carey’s defense lawyer, Reid Weingarten, stated, “We will contest these charges until [Carey] is fully vindicated. His proper place in history is as a hero of the labor movement.”(Jacobs).
Carey’s trial began on August 27, 2001 and lasted four weeks. The prosecution’s most important witnesses were Jere Nash (Carey’s campaign manager), William Hamilton (the IBT’s government affairs director), and Monian Simpkins (Carey’s personal secretary). Nash testified that, in mid-October 2006, he urged Carey to approve a $225,000 IBT contribution to Citizen Action because it would help Martin Davis raise money for Carey’s reelection campaign. Carey’s lawyers called Nash a “completely dishonest, untrustworthy, greedy, manipulative, little thief” who was trying to curry favor with prosecutors in order to secure leniency for himself. (Nash faced up to twenty years in prison and a $2 million fine on his fraud conviction.) Hamilton testified that, in mid-October 2006, he and Carey spoke about the second proposed ($250,000) IBT contribution to Citizen Action. Simpkins then testified that she and Carey had conferred about at least one of the IBT contributions to Citizen Action.
Carey’s lawyers called only two witnesses. The first was the IBT’s outside counsel during the end of Carey’s first term. He testified that Simpkins told him that she approved certain IBT contributions without Carey’s permission. The second witness, a staffer in the general president’s office, testified that Carey played no role in the contribution swaps with Citizen Action. The jury deliberated for three days. On October 12, 2001, it acquitted Carey of all charges. (The IRB-imposed lifetime ban from IBT membership remained in place.)
In April 1998, Cherkasky announced that the 1996 Hoffa campaign had committed several violations. First, two vendors improperly contributed over $167,000 to the Hoffa campaign by grossly under billing for their work. Second, the Hoffa campaign failed to report $44,000 in cash contributions. Third, a Hoffa-slate vice presidential candidate, Thomas O’Donnell, concealed the employment of an ex-felon. (The IRB later recommended that the IBT charge O’Donnell with filing false campaign contribution and expenditure reports. Finding the IBT’s response to that recommendation inadequate, the IRB convened a de novo hearing at which it found O’Donnell culpable and imposed a nine-month suspension from the IBT.) Despite these violations, Cherkasky did not disqualify Hoffa from the rerun election because his violations lacked the “hallmarks” that had resulted in Ron Carey’s disqualification: personal knowledge, intentional misconduct, and abuse of official authority. Instead, he fined the Hoffa slate 10 percent of the improper contributions and barred the under billing vendors from contracting with any IBT candidate’s campaign or independent election committee.
Judge Edelstein called the Hoffa campaign’s violations a “deliberate attempt to mislead the IBT members” but affirmed Cherkasky’s decision because the EO’s “primary role is not to punish election misconduct, but to protect the election process from the effect of misconduct.” He did, however, increase the Hoffa slate’s fine to $167,000, the full amount of the vendors’ illegal campaign contributions (Jacobs).
The government would give the IBT $4 million to reimburse the union for IRB-related expenses, rather than for election expenses. In turn, the IBT would contribute an equal amount to the EO’s rerun-election budget. This formalistic solution allowed Hoekstra to claim that Congress would not use taxpayer money to pay for supervision of the rerun election.
(The EOs spent between $17 million and $20 million on each of the 1991 and 1996 elections. However, for the 1998 election, Cherkasky would not have to allocate money for delegate elections or a convention.)
Hoffa was, by far, the most successful fundraiser, raising twenty times more money than Leedham, who was late in entering the time-compressed 1998 rerun election and had little time to fundraise. Metz raised even less money than Leedham. A total of 365,000 Teamsters mailed in their ballots in the rerun election. Hoffa received 55 percent of the vote, Leedham 39 percent, and Metz 6 percent. About 25 percent of respondents mailed back their ballots.
By the time Hoffa took office as general president in early 1999, the IRB was midway through its second five-year term (July 1996–July 2001). During this period, the IRB recommended disciplinary charges against 188 Teamsters from fifty-five locals in forty-one U.S. and Canadian cities
In the IRB’s second term, twenty-six respondents, including several high-ranking officials, were charged with LCN-related disciplinary violations. The IRB found two respondents to be LCN members, twelve to have knowingly associated with LCN members, and twelve to have knowingly associated with persons barred from the IBT on LCN-related charges. Seventy-five percent of the IRB’s failure-to-cooperate cases also involved an organized-crime element (Jacobs).
Entering the 2001 convention, Hoffa had already raised $700,000 in contributions. By the campaign’s conclusion, he had raised $3,566,978, compared with Leedham’s $340,255.37 (Jacobs). Much of Hoffa’s money came from donations greater than $500 from local, regional, and international IBT officers. Most of Leedham’s money came from small donations from rank and filers. The 2001 election ultimately cost approximately $9 million.
Disappointed with low voter participation in the elections of 1991 (30.25 percent), 1996 (32.04 percent), and 1998 (28.64 percent), in 2001 only 25% of people mailed in ballots. In 2006 voter turnout was only 19 percent.
From October 1992 through June 30, 1998, the IRB has recommended charges against 229 individuals. It has also recommended to the IBT that trusteeships be imposed on 21 Locals and on one Joint Council. During the IRB's first five years, ten IBT members were permanently expelled or permanently resigned when faced with IRB recommendations that they be charged with being members of organized crime. In addition, twenty-three IBT members were charged with associating with members or associates of organized crime, or with other prohibited persons, such as banned former Teamsters. In over five years the IRB has recommended that 21 Locals and one Joint Council out of the approximate 600 IBT Locals and Joint Councils be placed in trusteeship.
In its third term (July 2001 to July 2006), the IRB recommended that the IBT bring charges against fifty-three Teamsters in twenty-four U.S. and Canadian locals (see fig. 9.1). The IRB recommended charges against nineteen Teamsters for knowing association with an LCN figure or refusal to testify about LCN contacts; nine for failure to cooperate with a non-LCN investigation; nine for embezzlement or other financial misconduct; six for collusion with employers; six for knowing association with a barred person; three for failing to investigate corruption; and one for improperly attempting to influence a union election. Nearly 60 percent of disciplinary respondents were members of NYC metro-area locals, and of these 22 percent were members of NYC Local 813 (Jacobs).
In 2006 Hoffa received 174,963 votes (65 percent) compared to 92,444 votes (35 percent) for Leedham, roughly the same margin of victory as in 2001. In the IRB’s fourth five-year term (July 2006 up to November 1, 2010), it has so far recommended that the IBT file disciplinary charges against forty-nine Teamsters from twenty-two locals in twelve states and Puerto Rico.34 Five additional respondents signed precharge settlement agreements. The IRB most frequently charged breach of fiduciary duty, embezzlement, failure to cooperate with an IRB investigation, and organized-crime membership or association (see fig. 10.2). Twenty-five percent of disciplinary respondents were members of Boston IBT Local 82, charged with offenses including favoritism and nepotism in the operation of the job-referral system, violating members’ right to a fair contract-ratification process, violating local bylaws concerning financial controls, colluding with nonunion employers, and, in one case, membership in an LCN organized-crime family.
From its inception to the present, the IRB has examined the records of 219 Locals and Joint Councils, made continuous information requests of the IBT, taken the sworn statements of over 1,800 officers and members, recommended 231 charges against 228 individuals and held 18 de novo hearings. It has maintained a hot line for complaints.
All told, the IRB’s expenses have run about $3 million per year. The election officer’s expenses have run about $10 million each five-year election cycle (Jacobs).
The Teamsters union spent 15 million of project Rise to rid themselves of corruption so the government would get out of their union. James Kossler’s team investigated eighty IBT locals that LCN had allegedly infiltrated or influenced at any point in the past. The IBT became dissatisfied with Stier and Kossler’s results given the $15 million spent on RISE and disbanded the corruption program.
The Teamsters Union experienced a 35 percent membership decline from 1976 (2 million members) to 2010 (1.3 million members). Nevertheless, nearly one in five private-sector union members is a Teamster.
The Consent Decree’s Disciplinary Prong From July 26, 1989, through November 1, 2010, the IO and IRB brought or recommended disciplinary charges against 668 Teamsters who belonged to 138 different IBT locals located in 78 cities in 21 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and Puerto Rico. More than a third (230) of these cases were brought in the first three years of the twenty-two-year (and counting) remediation. The disciplinary respondents included 212 rank and filers, 102 local presidents, 102 local secretary-treasurers, 48 local vice presidents, 38 local recording secretaries, 18 business agents, and two dozen international officers, including one IBT general president (Ron Carey). (Jacobs).
Since the U.S. v. IBT settlement decreed elections for convention delegates, more than 50 percent of all convention-delegate elections have gone uncontested. Moreover, 75 percent of Teamsters have not bothered to cast mail-in ballots for general president and other international officers.
The U.S. v. IBT remediation has been expensive.* From issuance of the consent decree in March 1989 through December 2010, well over $100 million has been spent to supervise elections and investigate disciplinary violations. The IBT has covered almost all of this expense, including $3 million per year to operate the IRB and at least $10 million every five years to supervise the elections. U.S. taxpayers have also picked up some of the tab, including $20 million for supervision of the 1996 and 1998 elections and the U.S. attorney’s (SDNY) office’s litigation expenses.
Evaluation is complicated by the fact that, from 1980 to 2011, hundreds of criminal prosecutions removed LCN leaders, members, and associates from the streets. It is impossible to disentangle the impact of these criminal prosecutions from the impact of the twenty-plus civil RICO lawsuits against organized-crime-infiltrated unions.
Practically all Teamsters officials known or suspected of belonging to Cosa Nostra, as members or associates, have been expelled from the IBT. Most IBT officials who publicly associated with Cosa Nostra members have also been expelled, as have scores of officers who turned a blind eye to organized crime’s influence.
In the 2011 election Hoffa ran a 28 person slate and won the Presidency of the IBT with 137, 172 votes. Sandy Pope received 39,251 votes and Fred Gregare received 54,148 votes.
The government monitoring of the Teamster's union has been going on for almost a quarter of a century, the government needs to leave the Teamster’s union, so they can rebuild and be a powerhouse in the labor movement once again. The US government has never been a friend of labor, since politicians are bought and sold by the business community. This appears to really be more political control here by the government, than real concern for the union and the membership. All over the world governments are always on the side of big business at the expense of the people who toil daily in this world. That is the history of the class struggle, it has always been that way, and always will be that way.
1) “Corruption and Reform in the Teamster’s Union” by David Witwer. Copyright 2003 by the University of Illinois Board of Trustee’s. Library of Congress Cataloguing.
2) “ Teamster Rebellion” by Farrell Dobbs. Copyright 1972 Monad Press. Library of Congress Card Catalogue # 78-186690.
3) “Teamster Power” by Farrell Dobbs. Copyright 1973, Anchor Foundation, Inc., Library of Congress card Catalogue Number 73- 78115.
4) The 1957 Senate Select Committee on Labor and Management Practices, the McClellan Committee.
5) “The Enemy Within” by Robert F. Kennedy. Copyright 1960. Library of Congress# 60-6206.
6) “Mobsters, Unions, and Feds: the Mafia and the American Labor Movement.” by James B. Jacobs. Copyright 2006, New York University Press.ASIN#B002WVGEFU
7) “Hoffa and the Teamsters: A Study of Union Power” by Ralph and Estelle James. Copyright 1965 by D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc.
8) “The Rie and Fall of Jimmy Hoffa” by Walter Sheridan. Copyright 1972, Saturday Review Press. ISBN# 0-8415-0202-1
9) “Hoffa the Real Story” by James R. Hoffa. Copyright 1975. ISBN# 0-8128-1885-7.
10) “Hoffa” by Arthur A. Sloane. Copyright 1991, MIT Press. ISBN# 0-262-19309-4.
11) “The Teamsters” by Stephen Brill. Copyright 1978, Simon and Schuster. ISBN# 0-671-22771-8.
12) “ Devils Pact: Inside the World of the Teamster’s Union” by F.C. Duke Zeller. Copyright 1996, Carol Publishing Group. ISBN# 1-55972-884-X
13) “ Mobbed Up: Jackie Presser’s High Wire Life in the Teamster’s, The Mafia, and the FBI” by James Neff. Copyright 1989, The Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN# 0-87113-344-X.
14) Teamsters for a Democratic Union Website at tdu.org
15) Statement of the Independent Review Board before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Committee on Education and the Workforce U.S. House of Representatives July 30, 1998
16) Jacobs, James; Cooperman, Kerry (2011-11-01). Breaking the Devil’s Pact: The Battle to Free the Teamsters from the Mob (Kindle Locations 1113-1114). NYU Press. Kindle Edition.
17) March 7, 1967 Associated Press, “ Hoffa’s Prison Trek Started May 18, 1962.
18) April 29, 1989 LA Times, “Roy L. Williams: Teamster President Spent Time in Prison.” by Staff and Wire Reports.
19) November 21, 1998 NY Times, “William McCarthy, 79, Former Head of Teamsters” By Wolfgang Saxon.
Patrick Cudahy Strike, 1987-1989: 28 months of turmoil.
July 14, 2012
The Patrick Cudahy strike was part of an industry battle that was demanding continual concessions from the employees. On December 23, 1986 the company made a final offer that they introduced to the workers on Christmas day. They told the workers that the new plan would be installed on January 1, 1987. The employees wages would be reduced by 21% and 20 % of the work force would be part timers.
On January 4, 1987 after a vote count in favor of striking the Patrick Cudahy P-40 union began filling the picket line. The vote to strike was 686 in favor and 38 against striking (Christopulos). Workers had to live off a $40 a week strike benefit from the union. In 1984 workers took a pay cut of $ 1.96 an hour and in 1982 another $2 an hour. In 1982 a total of 540 out of 850 employee were laid off in 1982 by the company in order to obtain wage cuts from the employees. Now the company wanted pay cuts ranging from $1 to $3 an hour. The company was receiving approximately 250 grievances a year from the employees.
Under the old contract highly skilled maintenance workers received $11.40 to $12.70 an hour, while production workers received $9 to $9.78 an hour. The new company proposal offered maintenance workers $12 to $13.25 an hour, while production workers would receive a reduced wage of $6.25 to 8.65 an hour (Christopulos). The old divide and conquer strategy where you offer the skilled workers a raise and then ask the unskilled to take a pay cut. Under this proposal the company would save $3, 472,384. In December of 1984 Smithfield Foods Inc. purchased 80 % of Patrick Cudahy. From December of 1984 to April of 1986 Patrick Cudahy made a profit of $750,000.
A total of 850 workers went out on strike and they were even helped out by out of state donations of $133,000 (Cohen) The liberal Milwaukee Roman Catholic Archbishop Rembert Weakland criticized Patrick Cudahy for hiring replacement workers. The company claimed the majority of its 700 workers were replacement workers, after 2 and a half months into the strike.
After 8 months on strike the city of Cudahy had paid out $348, 668 to the police to monitor the picket line. Eleven months into the strike Patrick Cudahy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in United States Bankruptcy Court in Milwaukee to gain protection from their creditors. A bankruptcy petition filed by the company claimed they had 25 million in assets and $26.6 million in liabilities (Washington Post).
In 1987 the Administrative Law Judge Holley found Patrick Cudahy guilty of unfair labor practices in regards to the National Labor Relations Act. The company was found to have bargained in bad faith with the union. Patrick Cudahy profited when they replaced the employee with the first 500 replacements. Under the Federal TaxReform Act of 1986, the company received a taxcredit due to the targeted jobs program. This exemption was a savings for the company in the amount of 1.2 million dollars (TRINWITH v. LIRC).
The strike ended in April of 1989 when the company offered a settlement of $515,000 if the union dropped all labor charges against the company (Chicago Tribune). The settlement offered the following to the employees: people with more than 25 years of employment received $1,139, more than 20 years received $854, more than 15 years received $711, more than 5 years received $569, less than 5 years received $301.85. Patrick Cudahy emerged from the strike with a work force of about 20 percent of their original size before the strike( Rovito). The strike just faded out in the end and Patrick Cudahy received the reputation they well deserved. During the late 1980s many companies just pushed their employees on strike by unreasonable wage concessions, even though they were making money. The Reagan and Bush era brought out the typical corporate greed and power plays by unethical people in the business and legal world.
1) June 5, 1987 The Milwaukee Sentinel, “Major Wage Dispute Fuels Cudahy Strike” by Mike Christpulos and Lee Bergquist.
2) May 2, 1989 Chicago Tribune, “Unionist Vote to End Patrick Cudahy Strike.”
3) June 6, 2004 The Business Journal, “Well-Seasoned: Patrick Cudahy President Retires After Lifetime in the Meat Business” by Rich Rovito.
4) March 16, 1987 Associated Press, “ Turmoil in the Meat Packing Industry Leads to Labor Troubles” by Sharon Cohen.
5) December 14, 1987 Washington Post, “Smithfield Food Subsidiary Files for Chapter 11.”
6) July 26, 1988 Milwaukee Sentinel, “NLRB stands by ruling in Patrick Cudahy Case.”
7) TRINWITH v. LIRC 149 Wis.2d 634 (1989) Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Oral Argument November 1, 1988.
8) 09462 968 DECISIONS OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS
BOARD Patrick Cudahy, Incorporated, a Wholly Owned Di- vision of Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Local P- 40, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, AFL-CIO. Cases 30-CA- 9462, 30-CA-9535, and 30-CA-9566 May 12, 1988 ORDER GRANTING APPEALS BY CHAIRMAN STEPHENS AND MEMBERS
Case Number: 30-CA-009462 - Case Name: Smithfield Foods, Inc. - Citation: 288-968 -Issuance Date: May 12, 1988
Albertson’s LLC vs. Yvonne Martinez/UFCW Local 1564
Case # 28-CA-023387/Case # 28-CA-023538
July 13, 2012
Bt Greg Bretza
An overview of this case will bring to the forefront a summary of the 57 page document and the Administrative Law judge William L. Schmidt, and his decision. in the forgoing case. When it comes to the National Labor Relations Board the odds are with the employer. Workers rights as a whole are not respected in this country that is why it is nice to get some wins under the present political appointees of the Obama administration. Approximately 95% of cases are dismissed usually after a short period of time after they are filed. On the other hand when the Federal government prosecutes people for crimes they have a better than 95% conviction rate. In the world of labor the Federal government does a weak job in defending an employee but when it comes to incarcerating them, then the opposite is true. Putting it mildly, one basically has no rights under the Federal labor laws to protect your job or the constitution in this country in defending themselves against criminal charges. So when one does get a victory in a NLRB case it is a big deal. This case was decided on May 24, 2012 and was initially filed on March 3, 2011;the hearings lasted a total of 8 days.
Albertson’s foods operates a 105 stores mainly in the southwest. This store was in El Paso, Texas and is known as store # 917. There are approximately 85 employees at this store in which 15 are cashiers. The meat department is in the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1564 but the rest of the store in non union.
Yvonne Martinez known as the charging party in this case was employed at Albertson’s for 25 years. The complainant filed 20 allegations of a violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act and she also filed a violation of Section 8(a)(3) of the NLRA. In July of 2010 she met Juan Vasquez from the UFCW Local 1564 in the parking lot of the store. He asked her if she and other workers would be interested in forming a union and if they would like to meet at a nearby restaurant. She and other workers later met him at Pizza Hut. Yvonne was interested in joining the union because of the problems she and other cashiers were having at work. The management was not allowing seniority when deciding shift schedules, they were not posting shifts in an acceptable and timely manner, and their was preferential treatment for some cashiers in scheduling and the amount of hours worked. After the meeting with Juan her and co worker Talie Perea handed out union cards the next day to people who were interested in joining the union.
During the next few weeks Yvonne and Talie on their breaks, after work, and during business lulls began talking with co workers about the union. One day Yvonne was working her cash register during a busy day on December 1, 2010 and forgot give a customer credit for a $10 coupon for purchasing over a $100s in food. When Yvonne noticed she forgot she placed the coupon to the right on her on the counter and continued working. The store security video shows for the next 75 minutes that Yvonne never tried to pocket the coupon. Later, a supervisor came and retrieved the coupon off of her station and had her sign a paper that had to do with the coupon policies. A while later Yvonne was called to the store director’s office. Also present in the office were the District Loss Prevention Officer. They then had Yvonne right an explanation of what had happened with the coupon. Yvonne wrote she was unaware about placing the coupon on the counter. Yvonne was later suspended and fired.
The Administrative Law Judge ruled that a preponderance of evidence established that the store managers altered the working habits in order to spy on the employees in their attempt to organize a union. The Judge also found that Yvonne and other employees were actively engaged in grievances concerning the working conditions and scheduling of the cashiers besides other union related activities. It was obvious Yvonne was considered trouble maker by the company and under surveillance for her union activities. Regarding the coupon the company claimed that she should have credited the customer or destroyed the coupon. The Judge claimed their was no inherent attempt to steal the coupon and that the supervisor could have also destroyed the coupon but she failed to do so. Thus the Judge ruled that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(1) and (3) of the NLRA by suspending and discharging Yvonne for her protected and concerted union activities. The Respondent was also found guilty of Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act.
The respondent was ordered to reinstate Yvonne with full back pay and benefits and expunge from her record any disciplinary actions regarding her suspension and discharge. The company was also ordered to cease and desist from surveillance of the employees and their actions affecting the employees free choice of supporting the UFCW Local 1564. Yvonne was ordered to be reinstated within 14 days of this order, which was made on the 24th day of May, 2012.
The General Motors Sit Down Strike of 1936-37.
July 8, 2012
By Greg Bretza
The birth of the United Auto Workers was in 1935 but after the signing of their first contract with General Motors the membership of the UAW soared to the sky. The Battle of Bulls Run gave the union incredible clout and inspiration amongst the working class. These were the days of valiant unionism and the sit-down strike was happening all across the country. In 1937 alone there were 477 sit-down strikes across the United States (Fine, 331). Walter Reuther, along with his brothers Victor and Roy Reuther helped build the UAW into the fighting breadwinning machine that it became.
In 1936 between January and June, G.M. spent $994,000 on labor spies GM also had enough tear gas and other riot control equipment in their possession to fight an army. The workers had many grievances with the company including work speed up and no time for bathroom breaks. In July, 1936, temperatures soared to over 100 degrees and deaths in Michigan’s auto plants rose into the hundreds (Linder). There were 200 union organizers brought in to organize the Flint plant by the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Before the depression there were a total of 470,000 auto workers in the United States by the time of the depression that number was cut in half. GM, in 1936 employed 55 per cent of all U.S. auto workers and they had 69 plants in 35 states. (Linder) They were larger than Ford and Chrysler combined and controlled 43 percent of the auto market. Before the depression the average worker at G.M. made $40 a day, during the depression his wage was reduced to $20 a day. G.M. employed 171,711 hourly employees in the United States they employed 47,247 people at the Flint plants as of December of 1936. In 1936 G.M. had a net profit of nearly 284 million dollars (Keel, 37). During the depression the average annual profit was 173 million dollars between the years of 1927 thru 1936. The company was valued at 1, 5 billion (Grevatt).
On Nov. 18, 1936, the UAW went on strike at the Fisher Body plant in Atlanta, Georgia. On Dec. 16, 1936 they struck two GM plants in Kansas City, Missouri. Then on December 28, 1936 the Fisher stamping plant in Cleveland, Ohio became the next victim of the UAW on their road to victory. On the 29th of December, 1936 G.M. began transferring union members out of the Chevrolet Fisher Body No. 2 plant, in Flint, Michigan. On December 30, 1936 the company began moving manufacturing tools out of the Buick Fisher No. 1 plant in Flint, Michigan and the union began their sit-down strike that evening at 8:00PM. Also closed down with a sit-down strike was Fisher plant No2 in Flint. Early in 1937 not long after the strike began in Flint, union workers and sympathizers marched and rallied in Detroit’s Cadillac Square drawing a crowd of a 150,000 people in support of their cause. Within 2 weeks of the Flint sit-down strikes other union workers went out on sympathy strikes totaling 20 G.M plants, idling 136,000 employees.
On January 11, 1937 the police tried to stop a food delivery to Fisher No2 and a riot ensued. As reported by the Detroit News, 16 strikers and 11officer were injured in the mealy. Strikers advanced on the company guards with Billy clubs and took their keys. Now with the gate under control the company guards hid in the ladies room and called the police and claimed they were kidnapped. The Flint police arrived in minutes armed to the hilt. They blockaded the streets and attacked the strikers guarding the gate. The police then began throwing fire gas bombs at the strikers and their support that had arrived. The strikers from inside the plant began using water hoses on the police while throwing two pound door hinges at the police. The wind changed direction and the gas from the smoke bombs began going in the direction of the police. Within 5 minutes the police retreated.
Strikers and picketers followed the police and began throwing spare car parts, empty milk bottles, and chunks of ice, pavement, and coal at the police. The police then stopped and turned around and began firing their guns into the strikers. Thirteen of the strikes and their supporters were injured by gunshot. When it was all said and done the police left and the strikes still controlled the plant. The next day over 8,000 working people from all over Michigan showed up to the Fisher plant No 2, to show their support and solidarity with the strikers. The UAW was making a name for itself. On January 12, 1937 Governor Frank Murphy called up the National Guard and ordered them to Flint to prevent further violence. By end, of the strike a total of 4,000 National Guardsmen were stationed in Flint.
January 13, 1937 the Governor called both sides into a conference and within 2 days G.M. agreed to a truce. National bargaining would begin on the 18th of January, 1937. The company had agreed to negotiate on all of the 8 major issues the union had demanded. The 17 plants presently on strike would remain closed during the negotiations. In return the strikers would evacuate the plants by the 18th of January, 1937. The company agreed not to remove any tools, dies, or materials from the plants. When the union began to march out of the plants at the reported time they were met by Bill Lawrence, a United Press reporter, who handed Henry Kraus a press release from the desk of Goerge Boyson. It stated, “G.M. had agreed to meet with the Flint Alliance on Tuesday to discuss "representation" and recognition by the company. This was a violation of the agreement in which the company had promised to deal with the UAW as the sole bargaining agent of the workers. Runners were sent immediately to stop the evacuations in plants No.1 and No2.
On February 1, 1937 Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Gadola ordered the strikers to leave the plants and to stop picketing. On this same day at 3:35 PM workers staged a mock attempt to take control of the Chevy No 9 plant and they were met by company police and city police, the battle lasted an hour. During this time the workers in plant No 6 rushed to help out but the union directed them to Chevrolet plant No. 4.The union came in with 500 men and attempted to encourage the 6,000 workers to join in a sit down strike. It was then reported in the news that the men began breaking windows in preparation of the tear gas that was used against them. The National Guards men formed a line around the plant with bayonets and strategic positioning of machine guns; all visitors were barred unless they had a military pass (Rosenthal) The union had usefully occupied the plant using plant No. 4 as a diversionary move. Now all production of Chevrolets could be halted with the occupation of this plant. During the action of the day 28 people were injured in the violence.
On 11 February, 1937 the 44th day of the sit-down strike, General Motors signed a
one page contract with United Auto Workers. They recognized the UAW as the sole bargaining agent for all 20 of the struck plants and for the union members in the other plants (Sigmond). Union members were allowed to wear union buttons in the plants. All strikers were brought back to work even strikers who committed acts of violence during the strike. The company also agreed to a 5 cent raise at an annual cost of 25 million. The company agreed to begin bargaining on wages, hours, and working conditions (King). G.M. lost 175 million in production during the strike. (Fine, 305).
Within the year the UAW membership increased from 30,000 to 500,000 members. By the end of the decade the UAW had almost 650,000 members. On February 23, 1937 there were 10 strikes won in a single day, while Chrysler offered increases in all their departments; at the same time they agreed to negotiate a contract with the UAW for their 75,000 employee workforce. In the final 2 weeks of February, 87 sit-down strikes were begun in Detroit and by March 3, 1937 an amazing 47 of the strikes had already been won. Wages for autoworkers had increased as much as 300 percent while the UAW had written agreements with 4,000 automobile and automobile parts companies (Sigmond). The sky was the limit for the UAW after taking on the big boys at GM and winning.
1) “How Industrial Unionism Was Won: The Great Flint Sit-Down Strike Against GM 1936-37” by Walter Linder.
2) Genora (Johnson) Dollinger Remembers the 1936-37 General Motors Sit-Down Strike ... as told to Susan Rosenthal
3) February 28, 2007, Workers World, “70 years ago workers won Flint sit-down strike” by Martha Grevatt.
4) “The Cogs Fight the Machine: The Great GM Sit-down Strike” by Gillian King.
5) “Sit Down: The General Motors Strike of 1936-1937, by Sidney Fine. Copyright 1969 by the University of Michigan.
6) REMEMBERING THE 1936-37 UAW-GM SIT-DOWN STRIKE: STRATIFICATION OF A UAW MEMBER‘S IDENTITY IN SITDOWNERS MEMORIAL PARK Submitted by: Aaron Keel Department of Communication Studies.
7) “Michigan Auto Workers Win Strike for Union Rights,1936-1937” by Carl Sigmond,
The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike
July 7, 2012
The 1968 Memphis sanitation strike was a strike for dignity and self respect. The strikers wore signs during the strike stating, “I Am A Man.” This strike polarized the city along racial lines. The newly elected mayor Henry Loeb was given to a hard line plantation mentality in dealing with the 1300 African American strikers, who were segregated to the lowest rung of job working in filth on a daily basis. Every major player in the African American leadership came to help in this ongoing controversy. This would be the last stand of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr before he was shot down by a sniper assassin. True solidarity was brought together along mostly racial lines in Memphis as AFSCME Local 1733 faced down tanks, guns, and bayonets.
The city of Memphis had a population of 500,000 people during this time and 40% were African American. The black population in the city had a 58% poverty rates, 10% higher than the national average (Honey, 3). Many of the black sanitation workers made so little money that they were eligible for welfare after working a 40 hour week. In the city of Memphis there were 1200 police officers and only 42 were black (Honey ,44) This would have a major effect on how the black community was treated, especially the strikers.
In 1964 T.O. Jones received a charter from AFSCME to form a union called Local 1733. The 33 was chosen because of the 33 employees who were fired in 1963. In August of 1966 the sanitation workers planned to strike but a Memphis Chancery Court issued an injunction against the strike because they were public workers. The city planed on jailing T.O. Jones and the strike leaders and replacing all of the workers. The union then abandoned the strike and ordered the ones who had already began picketing back to work.
January 30, 1968- Twenty black workers were sent home in the sewer and rains division of the city of Memphis’s Public Works Department without a full day’s pay because of rain. Others were allowed to stay including white supervisors. This was a routine practice but this time the President of Local 1733 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union decided to keep the men home from work the next day; and he served notice that he wanted the practice to end (Commercial Appeal.)
On February 1, 1968- Two sanitation workers were killed when they were sitting in the back off their trucks hiding from the rain, when a garbage compressing piston was triggered by an electrical short circuit crushing both men to death (Thompson).
On February 7, and 8th in Orangeburg, South Carolina state troopers gunned down 50 blacks protesting segregation, killing 3 of them. These were dangerous times to unionize for blacks in America. Since 1960, a total of 20 civil rights activists were murdered in the United States.
February 11, 1968- The workers voted to strike after an unsuccessful grievance meeting with the Public works Department. February 12, 1968 the sanitation workers strike the city of Memphis and Mayor Loeb calls the strike illegal. The workers are asking for time and a half for anything over 8 hours. They also wanted a wage increase for laborers from $1.80 an hour to $2.35 an hour. And the pay for crew chiefs goes from $2.35 an hour to $3.00 an hour (Sweat). February 13, 1968 - About 800 strikers march to City Hall and booed the mayor when he announced that the garbage would be picked up with or without them. February 14, 1968- The mayor delivers a back to work order as approximately 10,000 tons of garbage pile up.
February 15, 2012- The local newspaper the Commercial Appeal began an editorial barrage of negative publicity against the union. Also, February 18, 1968- A rally by Concerned Citizens for Sanitation Department Workers and Families is held at Mason Temple Church of God and drew 2,000 strikers and supporters. February 19, 1968 the NAACP and others stage an all night vigil at city hall. On February 20, 1968- The union and the NAACP called for a boycott of all downtown businesses in Memphis.
February 22, 1968, more than a 1,000 strikers and supporters packed the city council chambers demanding union recognition. Committee Chairman of the Public Works Committee Fred Davis ended the sit in by promising strikers that the committee would recommend to the city that they recognize the union as the bargaining agent for the workers and abide by some form of union dues check off. February 23, 2012- The City Council meeting did not follow thru with the recommendation for union recognition and a dues check off. The people left in an uproar and began marching to Mason Temple. The police attacked strikers with mace who are marching on Main Street.
February 24, 1968- The city obtained a court injunction prohibiting demonstrations and picketing by the union and its supporters. February 26, 1968- Daily marches begin by the strikers and their supporters. February 27, 1968- Hundreds of people demonstrate at city hall and 23 union members are cited for contempt of court. On February 29, 1968- the union files a lawsuit in Federal Court.
March 1, 1968 a Federal judge rejected the union’s law suit. March 3, 1968 an 8 hour gospel singing marathon raises money for the strikers and their families. March 5, 1968 117 strikers and their supporters are arrested for conducting a sit down in city hall. March 6, 1968- 7 strike leaders are sentences to 10 days in jail and fined for contempt of court. March 14, 1968- Roy Wilkins of the National NAACP and Bayard Rustin of the A. Philip Randolph Institute addressed a crowd of more than 10,000 in Memphis. March 18, 1968- Approximately 17,000 people attend a rally and speech by Dr. Martin Luther King calling for a citywide march on the 22nd of March. King calls for a general strike if the demands of the strikers for a union dues check off are not met. The Reverend Abernethy called for strikers and their supporters to throw themselves in front of garbage trucks and block them (Cook). After march 18th the unions of the AFL-CIO greatly increased their contributions to the strike, and by the end of the strike they had donated over $100,000s.
On March 22, 1968- The march is canceled because of a record snow storm which prevented Dr. King from returning. The city and the union agreed to mediation. March 27, 1968 the mediation talks between the union and the city collapse. On March 28, 1968- A march from Clayborn Temple, led by Dr. King, is