Tags: Teamsters | government supervision | James P. Hoffa | organized crime

Government Agrees to End Oversight of Teamsters' Activities

By    |   Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 12:14 PM

Teamsters President James P. Hoffa Wednesday hailed an agreement that will halt the government's supervision of the union's activities in five years, calling it a "historic day" that shows significant progress has been made.

"After decades of hard work and millions of dollars spent, we can finally say that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters and that the government oversight can come to an end," Hoffa said in a statement, reports The New York Times.

The 1.4 million-member union has been under a consent decree since 1989, when a settlement was reached in a government racketeering lawsuit that said the Teamsters had been under decades of "pervasive" control by members of organized crime. Further, the lawsuit claimed the Teamsters union had been part of a "devil's pact with La Cosa Nostra."

The new agreement, announced Wednesday, recognizes the "significant progress" that has been made to clear the union of its corrupt influences, said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York. Further, the agreement will allow the union to keep its gains intact through its own disciplinary and electoral methods.

The new agreement retains the election reforms in the consent decree and still bans the Teamsters' officers and members from associating with organized crime. Further, it allows for a three-member independent review board to investigate wrongdoing. Officers, though, must still meet with government approval.

The agreement was filed on Wednesday in Manhattan, but Judge Loretta Preska still needs to sign off on it, reports The Times.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was the U.S. attorney back in 1988 when he filed the government's lawsuit, agreed Wednesday that the settlement is a "historic" achievement.

The racketeering charges named alleged Mafia members and associates as defendants, reports The Detroit Free Press.

"Think about all the administrations this went through: Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama," Giuliani told the Times Wednesday. "I think the Department of Justice accomplished everything you could possibly accomplish."

The agreement says that after the five-year period ends, the government will have no further role, but prosecutors are to still receive reports about elections, and can still return to court to see action in the future.

Hoffa said Wednesday that when he took office in 1999, he pledged the Teamsters would "run a clean union, that organized crime would never have a place in the Teamsters union," reports The Detroit Free Press. "I also promised that we would ensure that every rank-and-file Teamster have a direct voice in electing the union's international officers. After 15 years, we have accomplished these goals."

His father, the late Jimmy Hoffa, who was linked to Mafia associates, had led the union before his conviction in 1964 of jury tampering and the misuse of pension funds, but his sentence was later commuted. He has been missing since 1975, when he disappeared while en route to meet a Detroit Mafia leader and another Teamsters official, reports the Free Press. His body has never been found.

Teamsters' union attorneys Viet Dinh and Paul Clement said in a statement the union has "undergone a striking transformation," and that after 25 years of government oversight, "the union's rank-and-file members and duly elected officers should be allowed to reclaim control over their union's affairs," reports the Times.

As recently as last June, Bharara's office said the consent decree led to positive change, but still, "corrupt and undemocratic practices persist at all levels of the union, and the objectives of the decree have not yet been achieved," calling for a modified agreement to scale back oversight gradually.

The Teamsters union is the largest transportation group in North America, said a union spokesman, noting that its largest employer is United Parcel Service, which employs a quarter of a million workers.

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The government's agreement to end oversight of the Teamsters was hailed by union President James P. Hoffa Wednesday as a "historic day" that shows significant progress has been made.
Teamsters, government supervision, James P. Hoffa, organized crime
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2015-14-15
Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 12:14 PM
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