November 4, 2004: The Independent Review Board (IRB) on Oct. 14 charged Joseph Bernstein with associating with Billy Hogan, who was banned from the Teamsters in May 2002.
Bernstein, the president of Chicago Local 781 and vice president of Joint Council 25, faces a hearing and likely removal from our union as well as the loss of his $218,441 salary.
Bernstein admitted under oath to having at least three meetings with Hogan, one of which was observed by a RISE investigator in October 2003. Seven days after that three-hour meeting, Hogan’s son Robert was nominated to be on the Joint Council 25 Executive Board.
Bernstein, however, claimed that in their three hours together the two men didn’t discuss union business, and he didn’t even know what Hogan’s occupation was at that time.
The IRB suspended Bernstein from office once before. In 1992 he was found to have used over $50,000 in union dues money to pay his country club golf fees, and had to repay the union when he was caught.
Hogan, formerly the top Teamster in Chicago and Hoffa’s initial choice as running mate, was removed from the Teamsters in 2002 for attempting to make a sweetheart deal in the Las Vegas convention industry. The deal would have benefited a company owned in part by Hogan’s brother.
The IRB report credits Ed Stier’s RISE program with doing some of the investigation leading to this charge against a powerful Chicago official. It is the first IRB charge brought since May, when Stier turned over to the IRB a 300-page report on Teamster corruption. Stier and the entire RISE staff resigned at that time, blaming Hoffa for blocking investigations and covering for corrupt officials, especially in Chicago.