Hoffa-Keegel Threaten H&W, Pay Cuts

July 30, 2009: Employer demands for pay cuts and for employees to pay part of health premiums are pretty common these days, but we don’t expect them from the top officers of our union.

But James Hoffa and IBT secretary treasurer Tom Keegel are demanding such concessions—and more—from the employees of the International Union.

They are also threatening that if the employees strike against concessions, they will cross the lines and defeat the strike. Click here to see their letter to officials.

IBT employees in Washington—janitors, secretaries, and folks who work in education, communications, trade divisions, pensions, accounting, data entry and so on—belong to the office and professional union (OPEIU). Over nearly two decades they have bargained several contracts, but this is the first time the top officials have demanded such big cuts.

Hoffa and Keegel ignore a basic union principle: cuts should start at the top!

When an employer asks for concessions, any good union negotiator immediately asks for cuts at the top—equality of sacrifice—before considering any cuts at the bottom.

Hoffa and Keegel each took a huge raise two years ago in the form of a bloated “housing allowance.” They have increased the number of officials, consultants, and cronies getting big money: multiple salaries paid by the IBT have gone up more than ten-fold under Hoffa. The only officials they have let go have been those who dared to think independently of Hoffa. They have special pensions that will make them millionaires in retirement. International officials get a meal allowance of $100 per day when traveling, often to resorts. Even Bret Caldwell, their PR guy who will issue press releases against the employees, had a total compensation of $180,694 last year.

If our union has a financial pinch, there is less money to pay employees. We need to operate on a budget, and should pay employees fairly but never go overboard with the members’ dues money. But any cuts should come only after Hoffa and company have done their own belt-tightening.

In August, the Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF) will release a detailed factual report on the salaries and perks of Teamster officials. Teamster members will be able to see for themselves where cuts should be made.


This is just another example of how our international leaders are pro-company and not for the membership. How can a union threaten to force a strike on their own staff? What will happen next? Replacement (scab) workers? As a third generation Teamster, I am appalled at this turn of events. How can our leadership blow the bugle for an army of volunteer organizers with one side of their mouths and take a page out of the UPS and Overnight union busting book by threatening their hard working and contentious staff with the other? If the workers at YRC have to take cuts to "save" the company, then so too should the international staff. If the auto haulers have to take concessions to "save" their jobs, then so too should the international staff. If the international will not aid in supporting area standards, then we will fold like a house of cards and we'll go back to pitting one local against the other for a domestic race to the bottom. The international is adept at fear mongering but the time has come to replace fear with hope. To have hope is essential with life itself. My dad used to say that Hoffa Sr. used to steal $3 and give the employees/members $2. I used to laugh at that but not anymore. Are the true colors of the international an honorable Blue and Gold or are they the cowardly, anti-union yellow? We pay you. You don't pay us.