October 13, 2010: Sandy Pope, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 805 president in Long Island, N.Y., announced Oct. 10 to union members that she plans to challenge James P. Hoffa, the incumbent general president, during the union's 2011 national election.
In an Oct. 11 statement, Pope said, “We need a Teamsters General President who will put the power of our union to work for the members. The Teamsters Union is the most powerful union in the world and we should start acting like it, instead of abandoning members and local unions to deal with these problems by themselves.” Pope said that she is the first woman to run for the top seat of the 1.4 million member union.
“Tough economic times require tough leadership,” Pope said, adding that Wall Street drove “our economy over the cliff, but working people are the ones paying the price and, too often, unions are the ones getting the blame. We need to stand up to that, not cave in. I've mobilized members to protect their health benefits and pensions while Hoffa has been giving away the store.”
Pope first joined the Teamsters union in 1978, working as a warehouse selector and steelhauler, according to a statement. She later worked in the freight industry as a driver and dockworker. In 1985, she became a Teamsters' organizer and then the executive director of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, training and involving new leaders in the labor movement. In the 1990s, she worked as international representative for IBT in the warehouse division. Since 2004, she has served as Local 805 president.
“In a tough economy, Sandy has negotiated contracts that have protected members' health benefits and pensions,” according to a statement issued by her campaign. “She's mobilized members and joined forces with other Teamster locals and community groups to take on nonunion competition who are threatening good union jobs.”
Second IBT Officer to Challenge Hoffa
Ken Paff, national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union—a group that has endorsed Pope's candidacy—said Oct. 12 that he expects most of Pope's support to come from IBT members who would have voted for Hoffa.
Paff added that the votes of other members who would have voted for Hoffa will go to Fred Gegare, the only other declared candidate for general president. Gegare is the union chairman of the Central States Pension Fund, an international vice president, the head of IBT's dairy division, the head of the food processing division, and the president of Joint Council 39.
In July, Hoffa named Ken Hall to be his running mate as general secretary-treasurer for the IBT election, replacing Thomas Keegel, who announced he will retire at the end of his term (143 DLR A-8, 7/27/10).
According to Pope's campaign, the first step in the election process is to become an accredited candidate, which requires gaining the signatures of about 40,000 union members on petitions by Dec. 3. Becoming accredited allows candidates to get access to union membership lists and campaign space in IBT's magazine.
The office of election supervisor Richard W. Mark—an attorney with Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe in New York—oversees all nominating, balloting, and campaigning, which was established under the 1989 consent decree between the federal government and the Teamsters to resolve racketeering charges against the union.
Nominations for general president, general secretary-treasurer, and all vice president positions will take place at the IBT convention in June 2011 and a mail ballot election will be held in November 2011, the union announced previously. The new slate will take office in March 2012.
The Hoffa-Hall campaign did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Oct. 12.
By Alicia Biggs for The BNA Daily Labor Report.