Democracy Strengthens Our Union

December 5, 2006: Tom Leedham’s campaign for Teamster General President did more than win 35 percent of the vote. It strengthened our union for the future.


Since the 1997 UPS strike, employers have been on the offensive against our union. We have lost 150,000 members. Overnite defeated our organizing drive, paving the way for UPS to purchase it and operate it nonunion. And hundreds of thousands of Teamsters have suffered the first big pension and benefits cuts in Teamster history.


Hoffa tried to silence any debate of these problems by keeping all opposition off the ballot. TDU protected our Right to Vote and gave members a choice.


Tom Leedham’s campaign put pension and benefit cuts, contracts and organizing in the spotlight and outlined an action plan for rebuilding Teamster power.


Leedham’s message resonated with Teamsters across North America. He received his strongest support from Teamsters who are covered by national contracts negotiated by Hoffa and members whose pension or health benefits were cut by Hoffa’s trustees.


He won numerous freight and UPS locals, the strategic industries that are the foundation of Teamster power, including Chicago Local 705, Detroit Local 243, New York Local 804, St. Louis locals 604 and 688 and numerous others.


The Teamsters who know Tom Leedham best, the members of Oregon Local 206, supported him by a whopping 93 percent margin. Hoffa carried his own home Local 614 by just 26 votes.


Time for Hoffa to Drop Attacks and Reach Out to Rank and File
During the campaign, Hoffa attacked Teamsters who disagree with him as union busters. Leedham won dozens of locals, several major urban areas (including Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and St. Louis) and several states. Are all 100,000 Teamsters who voted for Leedham really friends of the employers?


Hoffa won’t solve our union’s problems by attacking every Teamster who disagrees with him. The low voter turnout in this election shows that members are tired of negative attacks and PR.
It’s time for Hoffa to drop the attacks and accept that our union is a democracy where members have different opinions and ideas. That’s a good thing. Debate draws members into our union and that’s where union power starts.


Instead of attacking members who disagree with him, Hoffa should reach out to all Teamsters and build campaigns that unite all Teamsters. That’s how we’ll win strong contracts, good benefits, and organize the nonunion competition.


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