BNA Daily Labor Report: Hogan Agrees to Ban

August 14, 2008: Robert "Bobby" Hogan, secretary-treasurer and principal officer of Local 714 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, has agreed to a permanent ban from his Chicago-based local to resolve disciplinary charges brought by the body charged with ridding the union of corrupt practices, parties to the agreement told BNA Aug. 13.

Although the agreement bars Hogan from any affiliations with Local 714, he retains the right to become a member of any other Teamsters local. Bobby Hogan, whose family founded Local 714 during the depths of the Depression, could also run for office or take a paid position within another Teamsters local after two years. The agreement carves out one caveat: Hogan would have to wait five years to run for office or take a paid position with Local 727. The agreement also strips Hogan of his duties as vice president of Teamsters Joint Council 25.

John J. Cronin Jr., chief administrator of the Independent Review Board (IRB), approved the agreement July 31 on behalf of the three-person review board. Cronin told BNA the agreement still requires the endorsement of Judge Loretta A. Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, who oversees the consent decree governing reform efforts within the Teamsters.

With more than 10,000 members, Local 714 represents workers in the metal industry, pharmacists, and deputies in the Office of the Cook County Sheriff. Until recently, the local also represented workers in the movie and trade show industries. Those workers recently saw their representation shifted to Local 727.

Hogan signed the disciplinary agreement one month after Teamsters General President James Hoffa placed Local 714 in trusteeship (116 DLR A-7, 6/17/08) and just days after Hogan castigated Hoffa for his "cowardly" decision to impose the trusteeship. In a letter, Hogan accused Hoffa of complicity with the IRB's "vendetta" against the Hogan family and union democracy.

"It's a shame you never really stood up to the IRB when it was clear this power hungry overreaching organization consistently exceeded its authority, trampled on due process, curbed free speech and overturned union democracy," Hogan told Hoffa in the July 17 letter.

Teamsters spokeswoman Leigh Strope rejected Hogan's suggestions that he or Local 714 had been mistreated.

"Bobby Hogan is a long time supporter of Jim Hoffa, but when it comes to corruption the general president doesn't play politics," Strope told BNA. "He's committed to rooting out corruption and protecting the interests of Teamsters regardless of the official. This trusteeship was implemented based on facts uncovered not only by Jim Hoffa, but also the IRB."

IRB Recommended Trusteeship in 2007

Hogan's disciplinary problems began heating up on Aug. 30, 2007, when the IRB initially recommended a trusteeship for Local 714 (174 DLR A-12, 9/10/07). At that time, the board pointed to continued local contacts with Hogan's father William Hogan, who served as the principal officer of the local in the early 1990s, but was removed during a trusteeship imposed by former general president Ron Carey in 1996. William Hogan, who at one time ran for secretary-treasurer of the international union on the same ticket as Hoffa, eventually was banned from the union entirely by the IRB. That ban was upheld in federal court five years ago (167 DLR A-6, 8/28/03).

The IRB expressed concerns that Bobby Hogan and James Hogan, Local 714's president and William Hogan's brother, had jeopardized the interests of the local by hiring Robert Riley as business agent and director of organizing. The IRB faulted Bobby Hogan for failing to monitor and discipline Riley, who had continuous business contact with William Hogan. Riley has been a close personal friend of William Hogan for more than 50 years.

Hoffa initially declined to place Local 714 under the control of a trustee, choosing instead to appoint a "personal representative" to address problems highlighted by the IRB. But on June 9 Hoffa imposed an immediate trusteeship, noting that his personal representative had been unable to implement several critical reforms.

The IRB expressed frustration with Hoffa's treatment of Bobby Hogan following its trusteeship recommendation. Hoffa had responded by imposing a six-month suspension on Bobby Hogan on Dec. 13, 2007. The IRB rejected the suspension as "inadequate" and took up its own review of Bobby Hogan (16 DLR A-11, 1/25/08).

Attorney Approaches IRB

Cronin said Bobby Hogan's disciplinary case was pending when the union leader's attorney approached the IRB and suggested some form of settlement. The parties ultimately crafted an agreement banning Hogan from Local 714, but permitting his membership in other Teamsters locals, including Local 727.

"We think it is a good agreement," Cronin said, "otherwise the board wouldn't have accepted it."

Robert Harrison, Bobby Hogan's attorney, told BNA the agreement is a good result for his client.

"This is not an admission of guilt of any kind," said Harrison, who practices in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "It is a way of resolving the case. One of his major motivations in resolving this was that he felt the pending charges and hearings were a distraction that was detrimental to the membership of 714."

Harrison said the Local 727 language was critical to his client because the local now represents Local 714 members in the movie and trade show industries.

Members of the Hogan family have taken a keen interest in movie and trade show activities for several decades. Such jobs are among the most lucrative employing Teamsters in Chicago. Leaders of Local 714 have frequently been criticized for fostering nepotism and cronyism involving such duties.

Bob Bruno, a professor of labor relations at the University of Illinois and the author of a book on Teamsters reform efforts in Chicago, characterized the agreement as an interesting result for Bobby Hogan. While the IRB might have imposed a broader ban, it agreed to a structure that leaves the door open for Bobby Hogan's return.

"To the extent Hogan's attorney approached the board, he was seeking the best deal he could get. And this is not the worst possible punishment that could have happened," Bruno said. "But it's good for the IRB and it's good for Hoffa because it gets rid of a problem. Hogan was seen as the problem and now it appears he's gone for a while."

By Michael Bologna

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