Proud to Be for Pope

November 16, 2011: The election results are not going the way we want them to. But we’re proud to be for Sandy Pope.

TDU participated in this election to rebuild Teamster Power.

TDU is about principles, not personalities. Our goal was to replace Hoffa with a leader with a positive plan for rebuilding our union’s power.

Sandy Pope was the only candidate with a track record of standing up to employers and the only candidate with a chance of defeating Hoffa for General President. Choosing to endorse Sandy Pope wasn’t a tough call for TDU—then or now.

The Fred Gegare Factor

Fred Gegare was a major factor in the election. He did not have a serious chance to beat Hoffa, but the split opposition helped make Hoffa’s path to victory easier.

Gegare blocked any possibility of a broad anti-Hoffa coalition. He refused even to meet with Sandy Pope to discuss what partnership could look like. Instead, he made Pope a throwaway offer of one spot on his slate with no input on strategy or platform.

Gegare hoped to capture the reform vote—but sideline the reform movement—by offering Sandy Pope one spot on his slate.

But Sandy Pope wasn’t in the race for individual advancement. She ran an issue-oriented campaign and put forward plans to rebuild Teamster Power by mobilizing Teamster members.

The Sandy Pope Campaign inspired tens of thousands of Teamsters, many of whom have given up on our union. Without our campaign, voter participation would have been even lower. Many more Teamsters would have sat out the election and Hoffa would have won by a wide margin.

Hoffa’s Smear Job

The opposition candidate is always the underdog. Hoffa raised $3 million from other officials and used the power of his office to back his campaign.

Hoffa didn’t put forward a platform or plans for the union. Instead, he went negative, smearing Sandy Pope with lies—even blaming her for his and Gegare’s debacle at Central States.

In many locals, the Sandy Pope Campaign and TDU did not have enough active Teamster volunteers to respond to Hoffa’s negative attacks. Hoffa could clean up in these locals. In locals where we had volunteers on the ground, many members voted for Sandy Pope and the majority often went against Hoffa.

Hoffa’s campaign didn’t inspire the members to vote for him. He is headed for a drop in his vote total from 2006, when he got 175,000. But the smear campaign did succeed in driving down turnout and pushing voters away from Sandy Pope.

A tough economy made our efforts even harder. After concessions and pensions cuts, too many members have given up on our union.

Where to Now?

Despite all the obstacles, Sandy Pope’s Campaign inspired tens of thousands of Teamsters to get involved. We need to build on this foundation.


The low turnout in this election isn’t a mandate—it’s a wake-up call. If we want to rebuild Teamster Power, we need to involve more members in our union.

That’s been TDU’s mission for 35 years. We’re going to keep bringing members together to stand up to employers and fight for our contracts and benefits.

TDU won the Right to Vote for our Teamster President. And we respect the members’ choice. We will support the International officers when they do the right thing. And when they don’t, we’ll hold them accountable.

The vote is not turning out the way we wanted. But we backed the right leader, and we’re proud to be for Sandy Pope.