January 11, 2000
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP)
-- Teamsters president James P. Hoffa says the union, which has
been under federal supervision for a decade, can police itself
Hoffa appeared Tuesday before
representatives of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters'
1.4 million members and left with their unanimous approval to
establish a code of conduct for union members.
The representatives also supported
creation of an ethics board and a study of the union's efforts
to sever ties with organized crime. "We want to move ahead
and do this study and verify the fact we are corruption free,
we are free of influence of organized crime and we are ready to
talk to the federal government," Hoffa said after the meeting.
Hoffa won the Teamsters' presidency
on pledges to root out corruption and work to end the federal
oversight, which the union agreed to in 1989 to avoid racketeering
charges brought by the Justice Department.
The union has spent $83 million
to support the federal monitoring, Hoffa said.
He added that more than 100
officers and members have been kicked out for associating with
alleged organized crime figures.
A Justice Department spokesman
said government officials have met with Teamsters, but gave no
indication the department is willing to drop its oversight. "We hope that the IBT's
efforts to develop and implement an effective anti-corruption
program are successful," Shirah Neiman, deputy U.S. attorney
for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. "We
look forward to continuing to work with the union under the consent
decree to ensure that progress in ridding the IBT of corruption
and organized crime continues."
Hoffa said a task force of
some 20 Teamsters will oversee the code of conduct. A first draft
is expected by April 15, and the final draft is expected to be
approved by Aug. 15, said union spokesman Chip Roth. Hoffa said
implementing the entire plan would be completed in a year.
Roth said the union has informed
several federal agencies about its plan. He said the union will
ask federal agencies for input on the code of ethics.
Heading the anti-corruption
effort is Edwin H. Stier, a former federal prosecutor hired by
Hoffa last year. Stier said he doesn't believe organized crime
controls the union. "The question is, Are
there pockets of organized crime influence within the union?"
Stier said after the meeting. He said that if that was the case,
they had to be identified and removed.
Neither Hoffa or Stier gave
specific provisions to be included in the code of conduct.
But Stier said he expected
"some very specific provisions in there dealing with how
you handle the assets of the union, what procedures you have to
follow to spend the union's money." He said he also expected
provisions to cover union elections.
In June, Hoffa wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, saying he believes the union can demonstrate that it doesn't need the federal government looking over its shoulder.