November 4, 2004: On Nov. 9 federal judge Kathleen O’Malley issued a temporary restraining order against James Hoffa’s trusteeship of Cleveland Local 293.
Hoffa’s trustee was sent packing and the 1,700 members of Local 293 got their local back, with the elected officers back in office.
Hoffa placed the local into trusteeship on Sept. 20, alleging serious problems including that Local 293 had undermined a strike by Local 348 against a beer distributor. Members, including the officers, went to court and proved that the allegations were not only false, but were a pretext for Hoffa to take over the local.
Judge O’Malley stated in her decision that “The Court was surprised by the lack of any meaningful justification for the imposition of a trusteeship in this case.” The judge noted that there is a very high standard for the members to overturn a trusteeship less than 18 months old, but in this case Hoffa had no good-faith reason for the action, and in fact acted in bad faith.
James Hoffa has increasingly used political trusteeships (and threats of trusteeship) and his power to overturn local elections any time he doesn’t like the results. This court decision shows that there are limits to just how much he can abuse his powers.