June 17, 2008: International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa has placed Chicago-based Local 714 under the control of a trustee, alleging that local leaders maintain contact with barred individuals and operate nepotistic work assignment systems, IBT officials said June 16.
Hoffa's action comes nearly 10 months after the Independent Review Board, the court-supervised panel charged with drumming corruption out of the Teamsters, suggested similar action with respect to Local 714 (211 DLR A-8, 11/1/07). Hoffa declined to place the local under the control of a trustee immediately, choosing instead to appoint a "personal representative" to address problems highlighted by the IRB.
But in a June 9 letter to members of Local 714, Hoffa said his personal representative had been unable to implement several critical reforms. Without an immediate trusteeship, Hoffa said associations between key local officials and a permanently barred ex-Teamsters official likely would continue and members participating in one of the local's health funds could suffer "irreparable harm."
"It became very clear that this situation was not going to change so he decided to implement an immediate trusteeship," Teamsters spokesman Leigh Strope told BNA June 16. "President Hoffa had given the local reasonable opportunities to work with his representative before taking this action."
Hoffa appointed Terry Hancock, president of Local 731, as temporary trustee. In addition, he appointed Brian Rainville, Becky Strzechowski, and Thomas Stiede as temporary assistant trustees. Hoffa also announced that he would hold hearings to determine whether the trusteeship should be extended or dissolved.
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. Local 714 previously was placed under the control of a trustee. In 1996, former Teamsters president Ron Carey imposed a trusteeship that ran through 1998.
John J. Cronin Jr., chief administrator of the IRB, expressed support for Hoffa's decision. Cronin told BNA June 16 the trusteeship demonstrates the union's commitment to comply with the 1989 consent decree that established federal oversight of the Teamsters.
Continuing Contacts With Banned Ex-President
In his letter, Hoffa noted that the IRB recommended a trusteeship for Local 714 on Aug. 30, 2007. At that time the board pointed to continued local contacts with William Hogan, who served as president of the local in the early 1990s but was removed during the 1996 trusteeship. 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 Robert "Bobby" Hogan, Local 714's principal officer and William Hogan's son, 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 and William 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.
The IRB's Cronin noted that Bobby Hogan currently faces disciplinary charges relating to his failure to monitor, investigate, and prevent contact between his father and Riley. Hoffa imposed 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. Cronin said the Bobby Hogan case has been fully briefed and is now in the hands of the three-person board. He declined to predict a timeline for a decision in the matter.
"The decision is with the board members, but there is a lot of material to go through as you can imagine," he said.
The IRB also accused Local 714 of failing to perform its duty as the bargaining agent for Teamsters working at five metal companies. Hoffa noted that the IRB had found that substantial bargaining unit work was being done by temporary and nonunion workers "in circumstances which suggested corrupt dealings with these companies."
Charges of Favoritism, Nepotism
Finally the IRB faulted Local 714 for fostering "favoritism and nepotism" within its lucrative trade show and movie sector. Robert Hogan and James Hogan were specifically accused of operating a referral system designed to benefit friends and members of their extended family. This type of chronic nepotism was also a key factor in the 1996 trusteeship.
In his letter, Hoffa said his representative continues to see problems at Local 714 on all three issues. Hoffa specifically noted that certain officers and employees of the local continue to have contact with William Hogan and Bobby Hogan. Contact with Bobby Hogan is currently inappropriate in light of his six-month suspension from the union.
Hoffa noted that his representative had attempted to move jurisdiction for the movie and trade show sector to Local 727 in an effort to curtail the nepotism problems cited by the IRB. However, he said Local 714's officers and employees have worked to undermine that effort and actually "sought to hold hostage certain assets of the Local 714 health fund" which were being shifted to the Local 727 health fund. Hoffa said the movie and trade show workers health benefits would be in danger of "irreparable harm" without the emergency trusteeship.
BNA was unable to reach Bobby Hogan or William Hogan for comment on the trusteeship.
Video Reveals Hogan Family's Views
However the Web site Teamsterinjustice.com, which focuses on William Hogan's views on the Teamsters, castigates efforts by the IRB and the Teamsters to reform Local 714.
In a brief video, Bobby Hogan complains that he is being disciplined by the IRB for failing to fire his father's best friend of 55 years. He calls the IRB's processes an abuse of free speech and an effort to undermine the rights of working people. William Hogan's wife Ginny Hogan also offers a tearful defense of her son following an IRB hearing in May.
"Now they're picking on my Bobby for no reason whatsoever," Ginny Hogan said. "Bob Riley has been my friend for 50 years too. Isn't he allowed to call us? I don't understand this. Where is our freedom of speech?"
The Hogan family's video can be viewed at http://teamsterinjustice.com/2008/05/09/movie/.
By Michael Bologna