Teamster Election: The Power Is In Our Hands

October 18, 2006: The ballots are out and our union’s future is in our hands.

For Teamsters who want a new direction and a stronger union, our job is simple: to work all the way up to the vote count on Nov. 14 to turn out the vote for the Tom Leedham Slate.

Leedham has won strong contracts and good benefits for 20 years by unleashing the power of Teamster members. Leedham’s plan for winning this election is based on the same principle.

Since the beginning of the campaign, Leedham has told Teamster members, “I am the candidate, but this is your campaign. Get involved and together we can rebuild Teamster Power.”

Working Teamsters have answered the call.

“I’ve never been involved in an International election before, but I’ve poured myself into this campaign,” says Hank Miller, a 30-year Teamster from Boston Local 82. “No matter what local or industry, members tell me they feel like our union’s power is slipping away and they want to know what we can do about it.”

The challenge now is to reach enough Teamsters to make a change. There are 1.4 million of us spread out over nearly 40,000 worksites.
“The Teamsters we don’t reach are still not going to vote for Hoffa, not with his weak record. The danger is they won’t vote at all,” says Sandy Pope, candidate for General Secretary-Treasurer on the Leedham slate.

Low voter turnout has plagued Teamster International elections—and Hoffa is counting on it again. That’s why he has avoided discussing the issues. Hoffa even ducked the official debate.

Hoffa has built a campaign war chest of $3 million in donations from high-paid union officials. He has hundreds of International staffers in the field, and over 2,000 business agents who are pressured to support him.

The Hoffa machine can turn out a bottom-line number of votes, estimated at between 10 and 15 percent of Teamsters, or somewhere between 140,000 and 200,000 votes.

Will that be enough to win the election? That’s up to us.

Working Teamsters can win this election. It’s a matter of getting 200,000 Teamsters to pick up the ballot off the coffee table and mail it in. And we’ve got until Nov. 14 to make it happen.

“That’s our challenge and our opportunity,” Tom Leedham says. “We’ve got to reach 200,000 Teamsters and convince them to use their ballot as a weapon for change. We do that—and the greatest upset in Teamster history is ours.”

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