March 25, 2008: Don Hahs has been removed from office as head of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).
A three-member Teamster panel has removed Don Hahs from office and suspended him from Teamster membership for one year for violating his fiduciary duty to the union.
Last year, Hahs was charged with embezzling over $58,000 in members’ money for basketball tickets, fishing trips, hotel-room movies, and unauthorized travel for his wife.
Hahs is barred from holding any BLET office until the end of his current term in 2010, suspended from Teamster membership until March 20, 2009, and must pay a fine of $44,963. Hoffa has approved the decision of the panel.
The panel, which included one BLET official and two Teamster officials, refused to convict Hahs of embezzlement. But they did agree that his spending was a serious misuse of members’ money.
Even after his suspension ends, Hahs won’t be able to run again for office. The next BLET elections are in 2010, but the Teamster constitution requires that a member must be in continuous good standing for 24 months to be eligible to run—that would be 2011 for Hahs. His career in the union is finished.
Ed Rodzwicz has taken over as president of the BLET. Hahs has appealed the decision, but he is unlikely to prevail.
Throughout this case, Hahs has claimed that he was only doing what BLET presidents before him did. “Hahs says ‘everybody did this,’” said Hugh Sawyer, the local chairman of BLET Div. 316. “That’s no excuse. It’s never OK to steal from our members. This is a union. Not a corporation. Union dues must be spent on union matters.”