Cracks in Hoffa Unity

September 5, 2005: The famous Hoffa “Unity” is straining under the pressure of pension cuts and declining Teamster power. The first open split in the Hoffa slate came on August 28, when Tom O’Donnell, International Vice President at Large from New York, officially announced he would run against Hoffa for General President in 2006.

The divisions in the Hoffa camp don’t end there. O’Donnell circulated a letter charging that Hoffa “never knew the real purpose of the International. But then how could he. He was never a Teamster.” This from the IBT vice president who has raised hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars for Hoffa.

In early September, Hoffa got a cool reception from many officials at the Eastern Region meeting. A large minority of the officials present broke ranks and sat silently without clapping when Hoffa and Keegel spoke. The bulk of local officials in New Jersey Joint Council 73, where Hoffa won 69% of the vote in 2001, are ready to get off the Hoffa train, along with some others around the Eastern region.

The cracks in Hoffa’s official unity are not just in the east, but also in the central and southern areas. Discontent is widespread among officials in freight locals who feel that Hoffa has given up on the freight industry. Some are campaigning for IBT Vice Presidents from freight to break with Hoffa and run their own slate.

At the recent Teamster National Black Caucus (TNBC) annual conference, there was almost no open support for Hoffa. Instead of lining up support for Hoffa, TNBC delegates were talking about increasing African-American representation at the top of the union. Hoffa’s General Executive Board has only one voting African-American member.

Two international officers were recently pressured to resign their office: Ron McClain of Iowa and Joe McLean of Ontario, Canada. Several others will not be running on the Hoffa slate, either because they have been tossed off or are leaving on their own.

In fact, when Hoffa launched a candidate accreditation petition in August by pressuring international reps and local officers to gather signatures, his “slate” consisted of just two candidates: Hoffa and Tom Keegel. Hoffa-Keegel got the signatures required to become Accredited Candidates.

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