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Hoffa Re-elected Teamster President

by staff |
January 20, 2007
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Oregon Teamster Tom Leedham came up short in his bid to unseat Jimmy Hoffa for the top spot in the union. Leedham ran the kind of campaign that Fight Back! readers like to see. His basic theme was that trade union power comes from the workers, not the officials. Leedham said that we need to organize that power to confront management to win better contracts and protect our Teamster pensions.

Leedham relied an a network of activists led by Teamsters for a Democratic Union. “These activists are the future of this union,” said Richard Berg, Central Region Vice Presidential Candidate on the Tom Leedham Slate, “without them there is no union. They have the vision to fight for something better and not just accept the crumbs that the boss throws us.”

Hoffa successfully strong-armed virtually all the union officers to support him. The Leedham campaign contrasted this by reaching out to new activists. “They woke me up,” said Local 743 member Larry Davis, “I’ve been a Teamster for more than 30 years and now I realize that only we, the rank-and-file members can make this union great again. Worker involvement - two words, but two powerful words - that is the only way forward for our union.”

Davis is an example of what needs to happen throughout the labor movement. After the national teamster election he ran and won a spot on the union contract negotiating committee at his workplace. He got together with his coworkers at the Central States Pension Fund and demanded union steward elections. The elections swept out some old- guard dealmakers and brought new life to the union at his workplace.

“Now we go back to doing what we do best,” said TDU International Steering Committee member Joe Sexauer, “We organize our coworkers to fight for better contracts. We demand dignity and respect on the job. We fight corruption in our union. When union officials don’t stand up for the members like they should we get in their face.”

The Teamsters union faces many challenges. They are in contract negotiations with their largest employer, United Parcel Service (UPS). UPS has just added a huge nonunion freight division that threatens Teamster job security and weakens Teamster power in its core industry. Teamsters need to organize the nonunion competition in freight, at DHL and FEDEX, as well as in health care, education and every Teamster industry.

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