December 6, 1998

Teamster Reform Group Demands Hoffa Keep Promises

by Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU)

Dec 6 1998 USA Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), the rank-and-file reform movement founded in 1976, urges reporters and other observers to measure Jim Hoffa's performance in office as Teamsters General President against his own lofty promises made during the campaign.

The following list is drawn from Hoffa's statements in the press, at the 1996 Convention (action plan currently posted on his web site), and in his platform that was published on page 31 of the October/November 1998 campaign section of the Teamster magazine. A fuller description of each item follows the list.

1) Make UPS deliver the 10,000 new full time jobs won in last year's strike;

2) Organize Overnite Transportation;

3) Negotiate a good contract for Teamster Carhaulers;

4) Take on Anheuser Busch to win job security provisions members deserve;

5) Stop the trucking part of the NAFTA trade deal;

6) Refuse to give money to anti-union politicians;

7) Balance the union's budget with no dues increase;

8) Cut and cap International Union officer and employee salaries;

9) Eliminate International Union perks;

10) Allow Teamsters the right to open debate and dissent;

11) Protect members' democratic rights within the union;


12) Continue the fight against union corruption.

Dealing With Corporations

Full-Time Jobs at UPS. Hoffa has said he will unite the union to restore Teamster power. Will he unite members in a campaign to reach out to the community and put pressure on UPS to make the company deliver the 10,000 full-time jobs it agreed to create by combining existing part-time positions? (These combined jobs do not depend on increased package volume, and they are not the same as the full-time opportunities normally created when full-time workers retire or leave the company.) Or will Hoffa make a backroom deal that will let UPS off the hook?

Organizing at Overnite Transportation. After more than 40 years in which old guard officials, including Hoffa Sr., failed to organize Overnite Transportation, the largest nonunion trucking company, where 3,650 Overnite workers have voted since 1995 to join the Teamsters or work at terminals where the NLRB is seeking an order to force the company to bargain with the union. Hoffa promised members he would "organize nonunion competition." Will he now build on the historic achievements of the past three years by organizing the remaining terminals and mounting an effective campaign to bring those workers under the national freight contract? Will he build on the Overnite workers' momentum to organize the other major nonunion trucking companies?

A Good Contract in the Carhauling Industry. Carhaul members conducted a successful three-week strike in 1995 to win job security, wage improvements, and record increases in pension contributions. Will Hoffa organize a UPS-style campaign before the current agreement expires on May 31, 1999 or will he go back to the old "get along, go along" approach to employers?

A Good Contract at Anheuser-Busch. After AB Teamsters got involved in a fight for a good contract and reached out to the community for support, the International Union and the union negotiating committee, controlled by Hoffa supporters, pulled the plug on the campaign. The company has imposed their "final offer" on workers. Will Hoffa accept the concessionary deal or will he gear up the kind of contract campaign it will take to win a fair contract for AB Teamsters?

Dealing With Politicians

Stopping the Trucking Part of NAFTA. Strong grassroots political action by Teamsters and community allies have stopped implementation of the trucking part of the NAFTA trade deal, which was supposed to go into effect in December, 1995. That part of NAFTA would let corporations exploit $7-a-day Mexican truck drivers to haul freight on all U.S. highways. The Clinton-Gore administration is under heavy pressure from the American Trucking Associations to implement NAFTA trucking now that the congressional elections are over. Will Hoffa mount a rank-and-file and community campaign to fight back?

Payoffs to Anti-Labor Republicans. Republicans who have long carried water for anti-labor corporations worked hand-in glove with the Hoffa campaign. In fact, testimony before a subcommittee headed by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) confirmed that Hoekstra's staff told a witness he should get Hoffa's lawyer and strategist, George Geller, to draft testimony for him. Will Hoffa now use members' money to pay off Republicans for their campaign assistance? Hoffa promised members "political action that delivers instead of blindly passing out DRIVE money to politicians who do nothing for Teamsters." Did he mean it?

Reform Within The Union

"The Right to a Balanced Budget With NO Dues Increase." At the 1996 Convention, Hoffa promised Teamster members $100-250 per week strike benefits with no dues increase. Will he make the cuts in officials' salaries and perks that it will take to make good on all these promises? Will he publish a balanced budget, as well as quarterly reports of all income and expenditures, as he promised?

"Cut and Cap" International Union Salaries. At the 1996 Convention, Hoffa promised to cut the salaries of the General President and General Secretary Treasurer to $150,000, cut International Vice President's Salaries to $50,000, and institute a $150,000 cap on total aggregate salaries of all International Union officers and staff. Hoffa Slate Central Region VPs, elected in 1996, have refused so far to cut their salaries. Will Hoffa, Keegel, and the VPs elected on their slate  who now make as much as $225,000  cut and cap their own salaries?

Eliminate International Union Perks. Will Hoffa eliminate perks for International Union officers and staff, such as the payment of FICA taxes, housing expenses, personal income taxes, and unnecessary car allowances, as he proposed at the 1996 Convention? Will he require an accurate accounting of all International Union officers' and employees' travel, lodging, and other payments?

The Right to Dissent and Open Debate. Will Hoffa maintain a union "free of political terror" with the "right to due process," as he has promised or will the old guard begin to attack political opponents with phony charges, crooked elections, violence, and other devices? Will the Teamster magazine continue to publish criticism of top officials and focus on members who are fighting for a better future, or will it return to the fawning praise of top officers that was its staple before 1992? Will the minutes of all GEB meetings including a record of all action and votes be sent to all affiliates and available to members?

The Right to Vote. Will Hoffa preserve members' right to vote for delegates to the IBT Convention and to directly elect all International Officers, as he proposed at the 1996 Convention? Will appointed delegates to the IBT Convention or any Special Convention be prohibited, as he proposed at the 1996 Convention? Will Hoffa guarantee members or delegates of all local unions or other affiliates the right to vote on all mergers, charter revocations, or reorganizations?

The Right to be Free of Corruption. Will Hoffa establish a truly independent and effective Ethical Practices Committee, as he has promised, that has rank-and-file involvement and that is "composed of individuals free from political control by any administration"? Or will he set up one that is stacked with individuals he knows are not committed to fighting corruption? ###

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