December 5, 2006: A Look at the Facts & Figures
- Hoffa won with 65 percent of the vote, in a 21 percent turnout. That is the same margin as in 2001, but with a slightly smaller turnout this year.
- The Hoffa campaign spent over $3 million to Leedham's $300,000 according to forms filed by each campaign with the Election Supervisor. The IBT and Central States and Western Conference Pension Plans spent millions more on propaganda attacking TDU and the pension movement.
- Leedham won a majority of the vote in 82 locals, seven states, and five joint councils. In nine more joint councils Leedham got over 40 percent of the vote.
- Leedham edged out Hoffa in the overall vote among Leedham’s best 194 local unions with 448,000 Teamsters. These locals account for 32 percent of the Teamster membership, but cast 37 percent of the votes. Where Leedham did well, voter turn-out went up.
- Among members covered by national contracts negotiated by Hoffa (UPS, freight and carhaul), the election was a toss-up. Leedham won most of the UPS-freight-carhaul votes in the Central and Southern Regions, while Hoffa won more in the Eastern and Western Regions.
- Among the 175,000 members covered by the Central States Pension Fund, Leedham had strong support.
- Among locals where the Leedham Campaign and TDU had strong outreach, Leedham was able to split the vote or win.
- Among members with little or no connection to the International Union, under local contracts and pension funds, and where there is not a strong TDU presence, Hoffa won big. This was Hoffa's winning margin: less involved members, in a low turnout.
- Among the three newly merged unions in rail and graphic communications, Hoffa won. But in one of them, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), Leedham made inroads, due to TDU activity, a rank and file campaign for the right to vote, and Leedham's running mate for International Vice President at Large, engineer Ed Michael.
- The Virtue-DiLeo Slate in the East, a two-leader slate running for Eastern Vice President slots, had significant support and strong candidates, but won relatively few votes. This showed, as we have seen in earlier elections, that most Teamsters who vote are choosing between the viable candidates for General President, the power position at the IBT. Independent vice presidential candidates cannot muster the votes needed to win. Leedham attempted to get all those who wanted a new direction onto one slate, but it didn't happen this time.
- Aside from tiny locals (with less than 20 votes), the most politically unified local in the IBT was St. Louis Local 604, a unit of carhaulers that voted 97 percent for Leedham (and its principal officer John Thyer).
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.
Decmeber 5, 2006: One year ago, we launched this campaign to rebuild Teamster Power. I want to thank Teamster members for the tremendous support you’ve shown and for the sacrifices you’ve made to strengthen our union.
From the beginning, I said “I am the candidate, but this is your campaign.” And you rose to the occasion every step of the way. You collected 55,000 petition signatures in just over a month to officially accredit our slate.
When it came time for the convention, Hoffa pulled out all the stops to block our nomination and deny members a choice. He failed. Working Teamsters ran for convention delegate and won—and saved Teamster democracy and members’ Right to Vote.
Our slate stayed out of the mud, because the issues were on our side. But having the issues doesn’t mean much unless you’re able to take your message to the members. Our campaign reached hundreds of thousands of Teamsters, because working Teamsters made it happen—campaigning before and after work, and taking time off.
I’m also honored to have worked with the entire Strong Contracts, Good Pensions Slate—dedicated, progressive, Teamster leaders one and all.
All Teamsters are frustrated with the low voter turnout. That low turnout is a symptom of the larger problem that Teamster members have been locked out of participation in our union. It’s not enough for Teamster leaders to ask members to vote once every five years. We have to dismantle the barriers to participation and get back to involving and mobilizing Teamster members—the real source of union power.
I urge all Teamsters to get involved in our union’s contract campaigns and organizing drives. Corporate America is on the attack against our contracts, our benefits and our future. Get behind our elected leaders when they mobilize Teamsters to take on corporate greed. And hold our leaders accountable when they fail to do so.
Thank you for your participation in this campaign, your dedication to your union, and the sacrifices you have made for a stronger Teamsters Union and more powerful labor movement.
November 4, 2006. With a week to go in the voting for Teamster president, it is not too early to say history is being made in the Teamsters Union.
If the Teamster rank-and-file can win this election for the Tom Leedham Slate, we will not only pull off the labor upset of the decade, we will open a new day for the Teamsters Union, and for the whole labor movement.
That’s the power of the Right to Vote that TDU fought for and won. That power is in the hands of our Teamster brothers and sisters. That fact alone means history is being made right now.
As of November 2, some 260,000 Teamster ballots were received by the Election Supervisor -- 19% of Teamster members. Leedham campaign volunteers are working hard to turn out more votes in the coming days.
The low turnout does not mean most Teamsters don’t care about their union. Some Teamsters are barely aware of the election. Many members are fed up with Hoffa, but don’t know enough about Leedham, so they sit on their ballot. As more Teamsters are reached by the Leedham campaign, more votes come in.
Rick Sather, a Minneapolis newspaper driver and member of the TDU Steering Committee, told us today that "Our seven phone bankers last night had more people ask how to get another ballot than ever before. People are getting more interested late in the voting. Here in Minnesota, we will work hard to the end, and we have a victory party set for November 18."
The low turnout in the election reflects Hoffa’s celebrity business unionism model—where PR slogans and photo ops are substituted for rank-and-file participation.
The Right to Vote is about Teamsters taking ownership of our union. Hoffa’s PR department chose his slate name: “America’s most powerful union.” It’s time to make that a reality.
Take to your fellow Teamsters today. Get five more to mail in their ballots. Be part of making labor history.
October 18, 2006: The International Union vote count will start on Nov.14 in Alexandria, Va. and will take approximately four days for the Election Supervisor to complete. The process will be open to a number of observers from the Leedham and Hoffa slates.
The count will be done one region at a time, and on a local-by-local basis. TDU will make the ongoing vote count available and post it online.
If you would like to attend the ballot count and serve as an observer for the Leedham Campaign, contact the campaign immediately at (718) 287-6156 to see if observer positions are still open.
Being an election observer is considered union business, so your employer has to let you off work (without pay, of course).
October 18, 2006: For the second time, the Election Supervisor has caught the Hoffa campaign taking union dues to fund their campaign.
On Oct. 3, the Election Supervisor ruled that Steve Mack, the brother of Hoffa running mate Chuck Mack, laundered $14,000 in members’ dues money into the Hoffa-Mack Campaign.
Hoffa’s Special Assistant Rome Aloise (Chuck and Steve Mack’s brother-in-law) was found guilty in August of laundering $15,720 of members’ money into the Hoffa campaign.
So far the Mack Family has been caught stealing $30,000 in members’ money for the Hoffa-Mack campaign. The Mack family gets over $600,000 in Teamster salaries per year. You would think they could donate their own money, like working Teamsters do.
Despite the dues-laundering scheme, Hoffa has kept both Mack and Aloise on the International payroll where they receive multiple salaries.
The Hoffa-Mack dues laundering is now under investigation by the Independent Review Board. The IRB has the power to charge and remove officials who embezzle or divert union funds for personal use.
Steve Mack has appealed the decision. Additional Local 78 members’ dues money is now being siphoned away as part of this scheme: this time to pay for Mack’s legal bills.
The Election Supervisor’s investigation and decision (2006 ESD 363) is available online at www.ibtvote.org.
Campaign Spending Report
October 18, 2006: Forms filed by the Hoffa campaign with the Election Supervisor show that the Hoffa Campaign and candidates have spent some $3 million, with approximately 90 percent of that coming from Teamster officials, many of them on Hoffa’s payroll.
Forms filed by the Leedham campaign indicate that about $300,000 was raised and spent, most of it from working Teamsters. Forms filed by TDU, an independent movement of Teamsters backing Leedham, indicate another $100,000 was used to support Leedham.
Leedham has been outspent by more than seven-to-one in the campaign, with the bulk of Hoffa’s big money coming from those on the payroll. As shown on this page, some of it was even money laundered from members’ dues money.
However, Hoffa has not gotten the bang for his buck that Leedham has. Much of Hoffa’s money is wasted on overpriced consultants, staff, fancy events, and relatives. For example, Hoffa’s son David raked in nearly $200,000 for legal work on election protests, but he doesn’t win any!
The Leedham campaign and TDU have paid less than a tenth of that, but win important protests, and have won new Rules (including the rule requiring a debate).
Hoffa has paid over $74,000 to a corporate consultant whose big clients are the Republican Party and nonunion employers, just to run a little website that lies about TDU. Hoffa’s PR spinmeister Richard Leebove has bagged $80,000. And the list goes on. These guys spend their campaign money the same way they often spend members’ dues money.
October 18, 2006: The ballots are out and our union’s future is in our hands.
For Teamsters who want a new direction and a stronger union, our job is simple: to work all the way up to the vote count on Nov. 14 to turn out the vote for the Tom Leedham Slate.
Leedham has won strong contracts and good benefits for 20 years by unleashing the power of Teamster members. Leedham’s plan for winning this election is based on the same principle.
Since the beginning of the campaign, Leedham has told Teamster members, “I am the candidate, but this is your campaign. Get involved and together we can rebuild Teamster Power.”
Working Teamsters have answered the call.
“I’ve never been involved in an International election before, but I’ve poured myself into this campaign,” says Hank Miller, a 30-year Teamster from Boston Local 82. “No matter what local or industry, members tell me they feel like our union’s power is slipping away and they want to know what we can do about it.”
The challenge now is to reach enough Teamsters to make a change. There are 1.4 million of us spread out over nearly 40,000 worksites.
“The Teamsters we don’t reach are still not going to vote for Hoffa, not with his weak record. The danger is they won’t vote at all,” says Sandy Pope, candidate for General Secretary-Treasurer on the Leedham slate.
Low voter turnout has plagued Teamster International elections—and Hoffa is counting on it again. That’s why he has avoided discussing the issues. Hoffa even ducked the official debate.
Hoffa has built a campaign war chest of $3 million in donations from high-paid union officials. He has hundreds of International staffers in the field, and over 2,000 business agents who are pressured to support him.
The Hoffa machine can turn out a bottom-line number of votes, estimated at between 10 and 15 percent of Teamsters, or somewhere between 140,000 and 200,000 votes.
Will that be enough to win the election? That’s up to us.
Working Teamsters can win this election. It’s a matter of getting 200,000 Teamsters to pick up the ballot off the coffee table and mail it in. And we’ve got until Nov. 14 to make it happen.
“That’s our challenge and our opportunity,” Tom Leedham says. “We’ve got to reach 200,000 Teamsters and convince them to use their ballot as a weapon for change. We do that—and the greatest upset in Teamster history is ours.”
August 8, 2006: The Hoffa campaign has retained the same firm used by union busting corporations to spread lies for his campaign via his websites.
The Bivings Group, a PR firm whose clients are a who’s who of anti-unionism, is paid Teamster money by Hoffa’s campaign to lie about TDU, Tom Leedham and anyone else who is part of building a new direction for our union. By the end of May, Hoffa’s campaign had already paid them $50,000.
The Bivings Group’s other clients include Teamster employers like Miller Brewing, Kraft-Nabisco, and Georgia-Pacific; union busters like the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers; and the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The Hoffa campaign spreads lies via its regular website and another one mis-named “facts about TDU.” This site is actually owned by the Bivings Group.
The Business Roundtable, Miller Brewing , the Republican National Committee, and Hoffa: four of a kind.Hoffa is not comfortable with union people. He gravitates toward the country club set. His former campaign lawyer specialized in representing Teamster employers like Waste Management, FoodTown and many others; at the bargaining table he refused to grant check-off to Teamster locals. Then Hoffa hired him as the Teamster General Counsel: Bradley Raymond. Maybe next the Bivings Group will be hired to run the Teamster legislative department.