January 28, 2005: The incumbents determine whether it will be a walk-in or mail-in. They set the dates. They make all the rules. They run the nominations meeting. They rule on who is eligible. They have access to all the shops. They control the printing, mailing, balloting and counting. They run the whole shebang.
Then they lose, and claim the election was stolen!
Sounds weird, but IBT President James Hoffa buys it, whenever he feels like it. He did it in Milwaukee Local 200 (reformers won bigger the second time). He did it in Washington D.C. Local 639 (his running mate lost the second time, in a sweep). He’s done it in other cases, and will no doubt do it again, until he is stopped.
The last IBT president to use this dirty tactic was racketeer Jackie Presser. But Hoffa seems to want to outdo him.
Fortunately, reformers who take office on Jan. 1 inevitably win by a bigger margin in the “vote till you get it right” rerun. That trick has never worked when reformers were allowed to take office. Teamsters resent having their vote stolen, and react accordingly.
Will Hoffa try it once again in Georgia Local 728? (The incumbent BAs ran the show, then cry-babied after they lost.) Will Hoffa try it in Georgia Local 528? (His appointed Trustee Doug Norris ran the election, and then whined after he lost.)
In 12,000-member Local 743 in Chicago, those who believe they “own” the union used a special trick. They stopped the count with reformer Richard Berg seven votes ahead of the incumbent, and ordered a quickie re-vote.
They then used even more dirty tricks, and spent an estimated $100,000 on their campaign to keep their $100,000 salaries, and won. The Local 743 New Leadership Slate is going to deal with the issue legally.
All Teamsters believe in democracy. We respect the fact that Hoffa was elected our Teamster president, and that our local union officers were elected—not in stolen elections, but in fair elections; not “vote till you get it right,” but “respect the right of members to decide.”
All Teamsters, regardless of viewpoint, need to unite to protect our right to vote. We fought too hard to win that right to let anyone undermine it.