September, 17, 2007: The president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Don Hahs has been charged with embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union.
Hahs spent the money to pay for everything from Cleveland Cavs tickets to a fishing expedition to Alaska. The Independent Review Board (IRB) issued the charges on September 13.
Hahs has been a Hoffa International Rep since the BLET merged with the Teamsters in 2004. His career is likely coming to an end.
From 2004 to 2006, the IRB found Hahs spent $47,880 on tickets to Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games. Hahs kept the tickets in his desk, and he only gave them out to other BLET employees “at the last minute when he could not use the tickets himself,” according to the charge.
Hahs also charged the union for:
- A three-day fishing trip in Alaska. Hahs was in Alaska for one day for a meeting then cut out for his fishing trip.
- Taking his wife on union trips. Since 2004, Hahs charged the union $7,951.97 for his wife’s tickets and meals.
- A week-long trip to Las Vegas with his wife that cost $1,677.77. Hahs and the union have no record of any union purpose of their excursion.
- $923 in hotel room movies. Hahs says his grandson enjoyed them; he often brought his grandson along on his trips at union expense.
Hahs claimed he brought his wife along on trips so that she could report back to the Grand International of Auxiliary, the BLET’s spouses association. But the officers of the GIA reported “that Mrs. Hahs never gave any presentations or updates at any GIA meetings about this trip or any other meetings she had attended.”
Altogether, the IRB investigation indicates that Hahs embezzled over $58,000 from the union.
Hoffa now has to decide whether to hold a hearing on the charges, or dodge the issue and let the IRB handle it. If Hahs is found guilty of the charges, the punishment may well be expulsion from the Teamsters.
“Don Hahs has shamed our union, but this is also an opportunity,” said Ed Michael from BLET Division 724. “Don Hahs’s outrageous waste of our dues money and resources has to end. Our remaining leaders have a unique opportunity to begin creating trust and respect at every level of the BLET.
“Hopefully our next BLET President will put our members first.”