The defection of Tom Keegel, Hoffa’s running mate, from the Hoffa re-election campaign has sent shock waves through the Teamster political scene.
In a July 15 letter to the General Executive Board, Keegel distanced himself from Hoffa, and criticized Hoffa’s direction and isolation from local officers and members. He plans to serve out his term and then retire in early 2012.
The letter states that “continuing down the same road as the IBT has traveled for the last few years will not lead us out of our present difficulties or help us avoid the problems yet to come.”
While respectful in tone, Keegel indicates that he will have more to say on the union’s problems, and “that time will come soon enough.”
The letter goes on to criticize Hoffa for listening to his appointees rather than local officers, and for having those same appointees run his reelection campaign.
Hoffa-Keegel Petitions in the Dumpster
As a result of Keegel’s bombshell, the Hoffa campaign had to ask the Election Supervisor to let them withdraw thousands of petitions circulated by local officials to accredit the Hoffa-Keegel slate. Stickers, buttons and other campaign paraphernalia also made the trip to the dumpster.
Hoffa then tapped International Vice President Ken Hall to replace Keegel as his running mate.
Hall, as the Parcel (UPS) Division Director, has been behind key decisions that have created rifts in the Hoffa camp and alienated many Teamster local officers and members.
In late 2007 Hoffa and Hall signed a contract allowing UPS to pull all its participants from the Central States Pension Fund, leaving that fund greatly weakened, and putting UPS Teamsters into a company fund with benefits far below most Teamster plans.
The contract also completely eliminated the clause forcing the company to create 10,000 additional full-time jobs.
The contract concessions were regarded as part of a deal with UPS to gain union recognition for UPS Freight employees. However, those employees were not put under the National Master Freight contract or into Teamster benefit funds.
Since that time, contract enforcement has gone downhill. UPS has eliminated thousands of full-time jobs which are guaranteed under the contract, but Hoffa and Hall have refused to hear any grievances about it at the national panel.
The Hoffa campaign has refused to comment on Keegel’s critical letter or his defection from the camp.
They pulled down the campaign website for two weeks until it reappeared with Ken Hall on it, without any comment on the switch.
All Teamsters to Vote
Nominations for General President, General Secretary-Treasurer and all Vice President positions will be held at the IBT Convention in late June 2011, and the mail ballot election of all 1.3 million Teamsters will be in November 2011.
Fred Gegare is at present the only other declared candidate for General President. He is also circulating accreditation petitions, along with three running mates for vice president positions.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), the reform movement which previously backed the campaigns of Tom Leedham and Ron Carey, has not yet put forward or endorsed a candidate.
See www.TDU.org for updated information on the IBT election as well as to read Keegel’s letter and other materials.