Hoffa, Zuckerman Square Off for Teamsters Presidency

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By Michael Rose

July 1 —Incumbent International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and a challenger, Fred Zuckerman, both earned enough votes from delegates to the union's convention in Las Vegas to be placed on the ballot in the general union election, the Office of the Election Supervisor for the IBT announced late June 30.

The candidates accepted their nominations July 1. Hoffa won 1,424 votes, and Zuckerman won 134 votes. Under Teamsters election rules, each candidate needed to garner 5 percent of the total number of votes cast, or 80 votes, to be placed on the ballot that will be sent to the union's 1.4 million members this fall.

In the race for IBT secretary-treasurer, incumbent Ken Hall garnered 1,450 delegate votes, and Tim Sylvester, who is running on the “Teamsters United” slate with Zuckerman, won 112. Hoffa and Hall also are on a slate together. Zuckerman is president of IBT Local 89 in Louisville, Ky., which he said was the fourth-largest local in the union.

The IBT election has been conducted for the past several cycles by an independent supervisor, as required by a 1989 consent decree intended to root out corruption within the union and provide for fair union elections. Under a new agreement reached between the IBT and prosecutors, federal supervision of the union will be phased out, although elections will continue to be overseen by a supervisor selected by union officials.

Hoffa Delegates Walk Out

During acceptance speeches July 1, the vast majority of Hoffa-Hall delegates, who far outnumber Teamsters United delegates, left the convention hall after Hoffa and Hall addressed the convention. That left only a handful of audience members in the hall during speeches by Zuckerman and Sylvester.

It's unclear whether the Zuckerman slate will be able to defeat Hoffa and Hall among rank-and-file Teamsters members. At the convention, Hoffa-Hall delegates loudly booed during Teamsters United candidate speeches on the convention floor, but they represent only a small share of the union's rank-and-file members.

In his acceptance speech, Zuckerman said Hoffa would depend on low voter turnout among rank-and-file members to win. Hoffa in his speech also encouraged participation in the election process. Only about 20 percent of members voted during the 2011 election cycle, he said.

Opposition Says Hoffa Cozy With Employers

The Teamsters United slate, which is supported by reform group Teamsters for a Democratic Union, sees the Hoffa administration as too friendly toward employers, giving up concessions in major contracts.

Hoffa and Hall largely are running on their record, pointing to various union accomplishments in the past five years, such as increasing union membership, securing major contracts and boosting the union's strike fund. They also pointed to success in getting FedEx Corp. to negotiate contracts with the union for the first time and securing agreements for port truck drivers.

“Has anybody heard any ideas from them?” Hoffa asked during his acceptance speech, referring to his opponent's slate. “I didn't see a damn thing” during the convention, he said. He argued that the opposition slate would return the union to “dark days.”

Hall Charges Lack of Experience

Hall in his acceptance speech charged that the opposition slate lacked the experience needed to lead the national union. “Our members should not need protection from the reckless decisions of their own officers,” he said.

Zuckerman in his speech called attention to the fact that Hoffa-Hall delegates had left the room.

“This is exactly what’s wrong with our union,” Zuckerman said. “If you disagree with the Hoffa administration, with their corruption … they tell you what to do and you leave the room.”

Zuckerman drew connections between alleged corruption by Teamsters officials close to Hoffa and contract concessions. At least two IBT officials have been accused by the union's independent disciplinary investigators of various corrupt practices in the past year, including Rome Aloise, an international union vice president.

“Jim Hoffa and Ken Hall refuse to stand up to the employers and refuse to stand up for the members,” Zuckerman said. “It’s time for them to go.”

VPs Elected, Resolutions Approved

The election supervisor's office announced the results earlier this week for candidates for regional and at-large vice presidential candidates, and international trustees. All of the candidates on both slates garnered enough votes to be placed on the general election ballot, except for several Teamsters United candidates from the western region, who didn't meet the threshold.

As a result, under election rules, the three candidates for international vice president for the western region—Aloise, Ron Herrera and Rick Middleton—were duly elected to office, Election Supervisor Richard Mark announced during convention proceedings.

Meanwhile, convention delegates also approved a number of amendments to the Teamsters union constitution June 30, including several related to the transition out of federal supervision of union affairs under the new agreement that replaced the consent decree.

In addition, the delegates approved an increase in workers' strike benefits. Workers who are on strike will now receive a minimum of $150 per week, up from $100, the union announced.

Also on the final day, union delegates approved a host of other resolutions, including statements on coordinated bargaining, organizing in the parking industry and support for legislation providing workers with paid family and medical leave.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Rose in Las Vegas at mrose@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com

For More Information

Text of all the Teamsters convention resolutions is available at https://teamster.org/2016-ibt-convention-resolution.

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