Magazine article The American Prospect

New Politics, Hoffa-Style. (Devil in the Details)

Magazine article The American Prospect

New Politics, Hoffa-Style. (Devil in the Details)

Article excerpt

Teamster President James R Hoffa Jr. has had a rocky couple of weeks. First, one of his key supporters, Chicago Teamster leader Bill Hogan, was bounced from the union by its Independent Review Board (IRB).The board's findings showed that Hogan, in an attempt to help an employment agency where his brother was a senior executive, tried to have hundreds of nonunion workers hired for convention work in Las Vegas. His quiet efforts to persuade Vegas Teamsters leaders to accept the deal--which would have depressed wages and benefits for thousands of Vegas Teamsters--came to naught. The IRB concluded that if Hogan wanted to bust the union for fun and profit, he probably shouldn't be an official of that union.

By Teamster standards, of course, this is old news. The union's history is full of wise guys who got rich off their members' work. What's new news is the union's political program. When the AFL-CIO's executive board voted to raise an additional $19 million to finance its political-action program this year, Hoffa was one of two union presidents who voted no. Jimmy Jr. accused the federation of focusing too much on helping the Democrats retake the House and hold the Senate. Accordingly, The New York Times's Steven Greenhouse reported, the Teamsters plan to direct 30 percent of their campaign contributions this year to Republicans. Surely, this is a demand-side strategy: The Teamsters would have an easier time finding Old Man Hoffa than they would finding that many pro-union Republicans. …

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