Former Freight Official Reveals Hoffa’s Moneyball Politics

October 18, 2006. Tom Griffith was a freight driver before he was elected president of Harrisburg, Pa. Local 776 a little over 20 years ago. He was Eastern Region Freight Director for several years. He knows the Hoffa administration from the inside and talked about the reason he retired. The following is adapted from his address to the TDU Convention.

I started working at the IBT, it didn’t take me long to realize that this was not going to work. I guess the best way to sum it up is that when officials under me were bickering about their positions and how much they were all gonna get paid, Hoffa sat me down and said, “Remember one thing–it’s always about the money.” That, I believe, was the turning point in my career, because I always thought it was about the members.

International Vice President Phil Young told me Hoffa was upset I was leaving, so I went to see him. “Listen,” Hoffa said. “You’re not allowed to retire, I’ll give you more money.”

I said, “Jimmy, remember when you set me on the couch at the Pennsylvania Conference and you said ‘It’s always about the money?’ ” He said yes, and I said, “It’s not about the money”—and then I left.

I thought about a slogan that fits Hoffa: It’s not what I can do for the union, it’s what the union can do for me. But I feel good about this election, a lot better than I felt about the last one.

I don’t believe people really had enough of a dose of Hoffa on the first round, but I’m pretty sure now, from the people I’ve talked to, that on the second dose, they’re ready for a change, and I feel real good about this election.

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