May 6th, 2008: The focus of yesterday’s Teamster flap—it hasn’t quite reached ’gatehood yet—centered on whether or not Obama wants to reduce federal oversight of the country’s fourth-largest union. Obama said that the union had done a “terrific job cleaning itself in-house” with regard to corruption but denied giving a “blanket commitment” to cutting back oversight. Hillary Clinton, too, has that it’s time to “turn the page” on the consent decree, but her campaign says she’s made “no promises.”
But this whole discussion ignores half the issue.
Click here to read more at Slate.com.
May 5, 2008: Sen. Barack Obama won the endorsement of the Teamsters earlier this year after privately telling the union he supported ending the strict federal oversight imposed to root out corruption, according to officials from the union and the Obama campaign.
Click here to read more at the Wall Street Journal.
May 1, 2008: James P. Hoffa took a $78,000 increase in his income for 2007, by far his biggest raise since he took office nine years ago. His salary, expenses, and “allowance” and “other disbursements” for 2007 total $413,234. General Secretary Treasurer Tom Keegel bagged a big increase also.
Although Hoffa’s and Keegel’s salaries are set by the Teamster Constitution, and go up each year on a generous cost of living formula, they are apparently dodging the limit set in the constitution by taking incredibly high “other disbursements.”
This information comes from the International Union’s LM-2 financial report filed in April with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Top Officers Bag an Extra Million
Each year the Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation examines hundreds of LM-2 forms filed by Teamster affiliates, to make information and analysis available to members. That report is expected to be available late this summer.
Here are a few quick facts concerning the finances of just our International Union:
- Hoffa’s “other disbursements” jumped from $35,000 to $66,000 in just one year. Most of this is a “housing allowance,” a new invention of General President Hoffa. His predecessor, Ron Carey, paid for his own apartment out of his salary, just as other union presidents do. Hoffa also paid himself an “allowance,” and his “expenses” went from about $27,000 to over $65,000. His base salary went from $268,000 to nearly $278,000; that was all he was permitted to raise it.
- The total paid in salaries, allowances, expenses and “other disbursements” to the 29 members of the General Executive Board members went up almost a million dollars in one year, the biggest increase ever.
- The International Union borrowed $10 million from Wachovia Bank for the second year in a row, and at the end of 2007 had not paid anything on the loans. The interest payments currently are at the rate of over $1 million per year.
- The income of the International Union was $185 million, including the $10 million loan.
- The International Union’s assets grew from $99 million to $117 million. The union held $51.7 million in treasury notes, $32.7 million in corporate stocks, and $17.6 million in corporate bonds.
- Strike benefits paid were just $2.5 million, down from $7.2 million in 2006.
April 8, 2008: The membership of our union is changing more every year, but the top Teamster leadership has not kept pace.
African Americans and Latinos make up a bigger portion of Teamster membership than ever before. And women Teamsters now account for a quarter of our total membership.
But our union’s top leadership doesn’t look like our membership.
The General Executive Board, our union’s elected leadership body, includes only one African American who is entitled to vote, out of 26. Two other African Americans and one Latino are non-voting Trustees.
The position of women among our top leaders is just as bad. Only one woman Teamsters has a vote on the Executive Board. Another woman is a non-voting trustee.
There has been progress, because of the efforts and struggles of Teamster members.
At the 1971 Teamster Convention, African American members and officers raised concerns about the fact that there were no Black IBT representatives or GEB members. Members launched the Teamsters National Black Caucus at that convention.
At the next convention in 1976, the Teamster leadership appointed John Cleveland from Washington D.C. Local 730 as an International Vice President.
Cleveland had fought hard to win greater representation and power for Black Teamsters in our union. Rather than move aside any of the white GEB members, the officials created a new position on the Board for Brother Cleveland.
The first woman wasn’t elected to our union’s top leadership until 1991, when Diana Kilmury—a long-time TDU leader from British Columbia Local 155—was elected with the Ron Carey Slate. That same year, the first Latino member was elected with Ron Carey, John Riojas of San Antonio. Kilmury later chaired the first Teamster Human Rights Commission.
We Need More Leaders
In some locals, members have made significant progress in building a leadership that looks like our membership. In other locals, less progress has been made.
But the problem is not that our union has too many bad leaders. Our union needs more leaders, especially African Americans, at all levels.
Every Teamster can be a leader, whether you want to be more active in your local, become a steward, or run for office. Being a leader means taking responsibility for your fellow Teamsters and helping them get organized.
That’s what TDU is all about.
The TDU Black Caucus is a space for Black Teamsters to learn from each other and get support in our fight to build a union that works for all of our members.
We offer training and workshops for working Teamsters who want to learn more about handling grievances, winning strong contracts, and building the movement for reform in our union.
Want to learn more? Click here to contact the TDU Black Caucus and a member will contact you.
March 27, 2008: How many times have officials in the Hoffa administration sold a contract by promising—in writing—that Teamster pensions will be “maintained and possibly improved,” only to turn around and deliver pension cuts?
Hundreds of thousands of Teamsters went through this routine before. Now Hoffa is at it again.
In March, 8,000 DHL Teamsters received a bulletin in the mail selling a contract deal. It states:
“The amount [negotiated in the deal] is sufficient to maintain and possibly to improve existing health and welfare and pension benefits.”
It is even underlined and signed by James Hoffa. It’s gotta be true, right?
Ask the DHL Teamsters in Baltimore. Their officials just voted to cut their pension accrual to zero. Work all year, get nothing added to your pension credits.
Ask the DHL Teamsters in New England, where pension cuts are coming.
A wise old saying: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
Teamster members need to stop being played for the fool by top officials who enjoy millionaire pensions.
February 21, 2008: The 1.45-million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters union today will endorse Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president, a union spokesman confirmed.
Teamsters President James P. Hoffa will meet with Obama about 5 p.m. E.S.T. in Austin, Texas, after the union's executive board meets to formally approve the endorsement, spokesman Bret Caldwell said. "The union has been paying attention to what has been going on nationally with the election. There have been a lot of discussions with both campaigns."
Read more at detnews.com.
October 29, 2007: The Independent Review Board (IRB) has recommended that Chicago Local 714 be placed into trusteeship. The move is an opportunity to root out corruption and allow the 8,000 members to have a local run for the members, and not for the Hogan family. The 250 page investigative report was sent to James Hoffa for action to be taken.
The scathing report states that secretary treasurer Robert Hogan and president James Hogan allowed Billy Hogan (Robert Hogan’s father, James Hogan’s brother) to continue to have contact with the local through a business representative and family friend, Robert Riley. Billy Hogan was banned from the Teamsters Union in 2002, after he was found guilty of trying to execute a sweetheart trade show contract in Las Vegas with a company partially owned by a family member.
The report also alleges that Local 714 maintained sham contracts with some employers, and allowed non-union workers at others, and refused to police contracts so that Local 714 members were denied wages guaranteed by contract. The report asserts that some contracts provided for wages less than the minimum wage, dues were illegally paid by the employer, and no contract votes were taken.
The report finally charges that the movie division of Local 714 routinely places relatives of officials on lucrative movie jobs ahead of more senior union members.
Local 714, long a Hogan family dynasty, was placed in trusteeship in 1996 by then Teamster president Ron Carey, and reforms were made, including in the movie referral system. But the local came back under control of the Hogans, and old ways returned.
The IRB’s report calls on Hoffa to act, and report back to the IRB on actions taken. The IRB is the three-person panel charged with cleaning up corruption in our union. IRB members are jointly appointed by the union leadership and the U.S. Justice Department.Charges Brought against John Clancy
The IRB also brought a charge dated Oct. 23 against Chicago International Organizer John Clancy for associating with Dane Passo, who was banned from the Teamsters in 2002 along with Billy Hogan. Clancy maintained contact with Passo, and held at least two meetings with him. Clancy told the IRB in his deposition that International Reps William Cooper and William Moore were present, and that Moore planned the meetings. No charges have yet issued against Cooper or Moore.
Local 237 launched an internal probe after Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) brought the improper payments to light.
As part of our preparations of the $150,000 Club, our annual report on Teamster salaries, TDU uncovered that Haynes received a $54,500 "stipend" in 2006 from the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York (HIP). Further investigation has revealed that Haynes received more than $106,000 in payments from HIP and Emblem Health since 2005—not including payments he received in 2007.
Following an investigation by outside counsel hired by Local 237, Haynes will return the payments. The final amount is still being determined.
"Did Local 237 officials really need to pay for an outside investigation to realize that it's wrong for our President to take $100,000 in payoffs from a health insurance company? That just shows how out of touch they are with the members," said Bernadette Bradley, a Local 237 member and leader of the reform group, Members for Change. "Thankfully, we've got TDU to be a watchdog for us."
It remains to be seen what, if any, action our International Union will take on the matter. This is the second time that TDU has caught Haynes taking improper payments. In 2003, Haynes was forced to pay back thousands of dollars after he took total salaries in 2001 in excess of the General President's salary—a violation of the Teamster Constitution.
"Making a millionaire pay back the money he was caught taking is not much of a deterrent," TDU Organizer David Levin told The Chief, a weekly newspaper for New York public employees. "What happens to him is going to send a message to other Teamster officials. Will Hoffa's message be, 'You will be held accountable,' or 'Go ahead, take your shot at the cookie jar because nothing really bad happens if you get caught'?"
Click here for The Chief's report "Ex-Local 237 Head Got Improper Fees"
August 23, 2007: This year’s analysis reveals that more than $20 million in Teamster dues was paid last year to the highest paid Teamster officials, each of whom bags $150,000 or more a year.
Teamster contracts and benefit funds are under attack—and our union’s power is on the decline. But salaries for top Teamster officials remain on the rise, draining dues that could be used to organize the nonunion competition and rebuild Teamster Power.
Those are the findings of a comprehensive analysis of Teamster financial documents and officer compensation by the Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF).
Some of our union's highest-paid officials are the ones who are failing to defend our master contracts and benefits. Click here to read more.
In 2006, the Hoffa administration shattered its previous records in several categories including:
- total pay going to the union’s highest paid officials;
- number of officers making more than $150,000;
- the number of multiple salaries paid by the International to officers already making at least one union salary.
The great majority of Teamster principal officers of locals make less than $100,000 a year. But there are numerous exceptions—and you’ll find all of them here. In addition to the $150,000 Club, we list every Teamster official who has a total salary over $100,000. No partisanship and no exceptions.
This year’s analysis reveals that more than $20 million in Teamster dues was paid last year to the highest paid Teamster officials, each of whom bags $150,000 or more a year.
In all, 96 Teamster officials now belong to this $150,000 Club—a 23 increase in the last year alone. Twenty-five officials now make more than $200,000 a year.
Twenty-two members of Hoffa’s General Executive Board are in the $150,000 Club—along with numerous Hoffa appointees.
For the last 30 years, members and concerned officers have organized to reform our union’s financial priorities. Multiple salaries have been at the center of that struggle.
In 1990, when TDU printed the multiple salaries of several candidates for International office, they were quietly dropped from their slate and retired. In 1993, General President Ron Carey eliminated 65 multiple salaries in one day by abolishing the Area Conferences. By 1998, only 16 officials on the IBT payroll got a multiple salary.
Since taking office, Hoffa has reversed that trend. Last year, 179 officials on the International Union payroll received multiple Teamster salaries—a new record and a 1,018 percent increase during Hoffa’s tenure. Altogether, the International paid more than $8.5 million in multiple salaries.
Hoffa uses these multiple salaries to reward his political supporters—and to punish dissenters. Last year, Hoffa fired Larry Brennan—the Michigan Teamster who made Hoffa eligible to run for General President by giving him a no-show job—for showing insufficient loyalty during Hoffa’s reelection campaign.
Hoffa also fired Eastern Region Freight Director Dan Virtue in retaliation for running for Eastern Region Vice President. That retaliatory firing is now under review by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Cost of Hoffa’s Broken Promises
When Hoffa first ran for General President, he promised to “cut and cap” Teamster salaries at $150,000 a year, but when the Hoffa train left the station, the platform stayed behind. Reform delegates to the 2006 Teamster Convention tried to amend the constitution to include these reforms, but Hoffa directed his supporters to vote against his own campaign promise.
TRF’s financial analysis reveals that the cost of this broken promise was $3.75 million for 2006 alone.
Hoffa also promised to “eliminate expensive International Union perks,” including the IBT’s practice of paying the employee portion of social security taxes. This amounts to a 7.65 percent tax on Teamster members and hidden extra compensation for International officials. For the 178 International officials making $100,000 a year or more, this cost Teamsters nearly $1 million last year alone.
If Hoffa had kept his “cut and cap” promises, our union would have saved $20 million during his tenure in office.
Rank-and-File Pressure Can Change Priorities
For 28 years, TDU has published the facts to let members decide for themselves whether our union’s financial priorities are on the right track.
Armed with the facts, Teamsters have mobilized to cut the fat and direct our union’s resources to programs that build Teamster power.
When TDU first published the $100,000 Club, General President Jackie Presser’s salary was over $500,000. In today’s dollars, that would be over $1 million. Those days are past.
These financial savings are the direct result of rank-and-file pressure—but they’re not enough.
With corporations attacking our contracts and benefits, we need to keep the pressure to make sure our dues money is put to work defending working Teamsters—not subsidizing a corporate lifestyle for top Teamster officials.
Some of our union's highest-paid officials are the ones who are failing to defend our master contracts and benefits. Click here to read more.
August 12, 2007: Election Appeals Master Kenneth Conboy has issued a decision that could result in a victory for Teamster democracy. The decision is a blow against retaliation aimed at Teamsters who run for IBT office. The decision questions the legality of Hoffa’s firing of Dan Virtue and Carlos Ramos last January.
The firings came days after the 2006 IBT Election was certified, an election won by Hoffa’s slate against the reform slate headed by Tom Leedham and Sandy Pope. Virtue ran on an independent slate, along with Joint Council 73 president Don DiLeo, for Eastern vice president. Ramos supported Virtue.
The Election Supervisor investigated the firings, after Virtue and Ramos protested, and found that every reason offered by the Hoffa administration for the firings was bogus. Hoffa’s staff, in particular Executive Assistant Leo Deaner, made up one lie after another to justify the firings. Former Freight Director Phil Young and Freight Director Tyson Johnson testified that Virtue did an “excellent” job as Eastern Region Freight Coordinator. But the Election Supervisor ruled that since the election was over, Hoffa could fire him for any reason he wanted.
On appeal, Conboy sharply disagreed, and endorsed arguments advanced in Virtue’s appeal and by attorney Barbara Harvey, who represents TDU in the case. Judge Conboy has asked the U.S. Attorney to submit an opinion on this matter, and the U.S. Attorney has agreed to do so by Sept. 12. Some time after that a final decision is expected.
Virtue’s appeal made this powerful argument: “To allow this blatant discrimination to stand will no doubt have a chilling effect on democracy within our union. Potential future opposition candidates will have to look no further than how the Election Appeals Master handles this case in order to know whether or not they are truly free to exercise their right to run for office or nominate candidates without fear of systematic retaliation by an incumbent administration.”
That sums up why Teamsters for a Democratic Union will continue to fight for this principle, to protect the rights of all Teamsters.