Hoffa Corruption Wrecks Possibility of Ending Government Supervision

July 27, 2005: In an embarrassing retreat from his promises to “run a corruption-free union” and “get the government out of the Teamsters,” James Hoffa has officially sacked all plans to try to negotiate an end to federal supervision of our union.

On July 20, Hoffa’s General Counsel, Pat Szymanski, told the Daily Labor Report that the Hoffa administration has given up its goal of ending federal supervision until at least 2007.

According to the Daily Labor Report, “Szymanski said the controversial conclusion of Project RISE, which might have served as the self-policing mechanism taking the place of the IRB, leaves the union in an inferior position to be able to end federal supervision.”

The article went on to report, “Szymanski said that the damage resulting from Stier’s departure has derailed the union’s plans” to try to end the federal consent order.

Embarrassing Failure for Hoffa

The announcement is an embarrassing admission of failure and a huge retreat for the Hoffa administration, which spent $15 million over five years on Project RISE. Hoffa’s goal was to use RISE as leverage to end the consent order for the Teamsters.

But Hoffa’s leverage disappeared when RISE director Edwin Stier and his entire staff of investigators resigned in protest in April 2004, and issued a report blaming Hoffa for stifling anti-corruption efforts, including investigations of organized crime influence.

In the year since then, Hoffa paid another huge sum of union money to Edward McDonald to issue yet another report, supposedly to get to the bottom of the corruption allegations that led to the collapse of RISE.

Instead, McDonald issued a whitewash. The Hoffa administration released a portion of the McDonald report on July 14. It says nothing on the anti-corruption program. It consists solely of a denunciation of Stier, the former federal prosecutor Hoffa handpicked, paid millions of dollars of dues money, and hoped would end federal supervision of our union.

Just a week after the McDonald report’s publication, the Hoffa administration has openly admitted that this effort not only failed, but backfired, making any efforts to end federal supervision of our union pointless until at least 2007.

Union Far from Clean

Hoffa first promised 10 years ago to rid the union of corruption and establish an independent anti-corruption program.
After Hoffa’s two terms in office, experts say we are farther than ever from that goal.

The Association for Union Democracy’s Herman Benson told the Daily Labor Report, the Teamsters “are no place with respect to reform and they are worse off than they were before Project RISE. The very guy they hired to do the job now says they can’t do the job.”

So now our Teamsters Union has no anti-corruption program and no hope of replacing the Independent Review Board (IRB) with an internal clean-up program as long as Hoffa is at the helm.

No wonder Hoffa is hunting for a scapegoat and Teamster members are looking for new leadership in 2006.

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